The Magic of February

There has always been something magical to me about February. It is still cold, but we are bridging to spring. With that knowledge, I relish the snow, knowing that any one of them could bring the last flakes to fall until the end of the year. If I close my eyes, I can see a sprite skating across ice-laden pine boughs of the trees in my yard.

Then, there is Valentine’s Day, of course, which I celebrate as a most sacred holiday, second only to Halloween. I imagine a modern Cupid, mischievous as ever, plotting how to get two awkward, flawed people to finally realize what is right in front of them.

And finally, the birthdays of a few of my favorite writers nestle in toward the middle of the month. Maybe there stories aren’t necessarily about magic, but there is magic in them…sometimes in the plot, sometimes in the characters, but always in the writing.

Kate Chopin, February 8
I read The Awakening at least once a year. I remember the first time I read it…sophomore year of college in a women in literature class. There was something about it that changed me. The writing was as smoldering and dream-like as Louisiana itself. The copy I had in college, now replaced with a hardback, was laden with notes made in the margins and dog-eared pages (both habits I dislike, but I felt a compulsion to remember each beautifully spun phrase). As a writer, I grew by reading it, finally making the connection that the language of a story is just as important as any other single element. Read this bit from her novel.

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

Toni Morrison, February 15
You pretty much can’t go wrong with a Toni Morrison book. The language is complex, pulling you feverishly through the story. Several years ago, I picked up a copy of Paradise. I was hooked. It was, literally, one of the best first lines I’ve read of a book. Yes, there is magical realism in this book. But the language is also magic. I was enchanted with the very first line I read:

They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time.

Tonight, if I’m lucky, I will write a sentence or two with a bit of magic in them. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll imagine what creatures lurk outside in the light of the waxing moon.


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