January is dangerous because it rolls right into February. There’s very little change between the two. Very little shift in the icicles that dangle from the eves and birch branches. Very little difference in the way the snow glistens in its drifts like crystals and prisms of sky. The prisms like the tiny drops of water that slide off the icicles, each a tear that’s been held at the corner of an eye waiting to slide down and make deep depressions in the snowbanks. Each a tunnel straight to the center of the Earth. First one, then three, then dozens as rain falls and melts a path to the long-buried dirt. For that’s what’s dangerous about Januaries: they roll right into Aprils.
But April is fickle and cruel, easily shifting from rain to sleet to snow. Snow that so resembles the drifts of January. And then drifts of snow become drifts of green and petals of purple, orange, and red. Red like the leaves of the birch that start as a crown and become a thick blanket. For that’s what’s dangerous about Januaries: they soon become Octobers.
Octobers where the air bites and the unrelenting punishing quiet of winter returns. Blankets of leaves become blankets of snow, and it is January again.
The young of us don’t live where these changes are so vibrantly on display. A desert, the tropics, a swamp. They think that if there is barely a difference outside their windows between January and August, April and October, they won’t know how long it’s been. They won’t know how many mortal friends have been born and died and decayed. They think it easy to forget.
But they move back to where they can see it again. We all do, just to stand still and acknowledge the time that’s passing.
I have picked a spot and have not moved. I feel the weight of the world turning, the stars spinning. My clothes have rotted off of me, while vines have overtaken my legs, and moss my arms. A tree has fallen and rotted, another taken root. I’m waiting, hoping that by acknowledging this passage, it will somehow pass on to me. But I am always observing, and never a part. Like marble that will never erode.
But, though I hoped that standing here rather than the desert would change me, I know now that there is so little difference between the hot destructive passion of summer and the vibrant death throes of fall. The capricious elation of spring and the brilliant blinding dormancy of winter. It is still so easy to forget how much time has passed. For that’s the most dangerous thing about Januaries, like us, they never end.