Friday, January 25, 2008

Hot times & full-tilt February fiestas

LAS CRUCES — Why is February our most romantic and festive month?
Maybe after lackluster January, which is usually our coldest winter month, we can all use some extra warmth wherever we can find it, and there’s nothing like Valentines and declarations of love to encourage some extra cuddling.
Perhaps surprisingly for a snow-hating person who grew up in frigid Northern climes, February has always been a favorite time of year.
It may be a matter of comparison with January, a month full of my least favorite things. It started when I was a kid, when I first decided that as long as things were cold and miserable, I might as well get all the odious chores over and done with.
So January is the month when I get the tax stuff together, take stock of what went right or wrong in the previous year, schedule household repairs, clean up the yard, visit the doctor to renew prescriptions, weigh in and face the ravages of the holidays, get my teeth and carpets cleaned. Then it’s time to figure out how much home and personal physical repair and maintenance will cut into funds for vacations.
And maybe, research getaways to tropical climes. Because you have to have some fun, or at least some prospect of fun. Even in a month full of my least favorite things.
But then comes February. Red hot with romance and the promise of spring (especially if you’re smart enough to move south from Michigan).
February includes Valentine’s Day and my birthday and thus the start of a new year for me personally, and in 2008, for 1.3 billion Chinese, since Chinese New Year falls on my birthday this year.
February goes by in a flash because it’s filled with things to commemorate and celebrate, all packed into our shortest month.
It’s also the weirdest and wildest and, some might say, the most creative, spiritual and charmingly inventive and delightfully eccentric month, being the native territory of Aquarians. There are more of us in the hall of fame, it is said, than any other sign of the zodiac, and it’s the dawning of our age, as we’ve been reminding you since the harbinger 1960s.
And even in the shortest month there are some surprise bonuses, with a few days left over to welcome the birthdays of our ethereal neighbors, the Pisceans, who may be even more deeply weird and wonderful than Aquarians.
February is, after all, the only month that gets an extra day every four years, and it happens in Pisces season.
We are fortunate to live very close to the “Leap Year Capital of the World” in Anthony, which straddles the New Mexico-Texas border but has always seemed to have its true corazon in the Land of Enchantment. It’s all thanks to Mary Ann Brown, a Leap Year baby who had the delightfully wacky Piscean vision to create a full-tilt fiesta to celebrate those rarest of milagro birthday kids.
February has lots of other special treats and reasons to celebrate in addition to Valentines, Day, Presidents’ Day, Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, Groundhog Day, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras and Mexico’s Dia de la Bandera (Flag Day) and Dia de la Candaleria.
It’s Black History Month in America, with traditional local observances that have included everything from lectures and films to art exhibitions and music and other cultural events and performances.
And, of course, it’s also For the Love of Art Month in Las Cruces and Mesilla, week after week devoted to enthusiastic celebrations of what too many of us may take for granted: life in one of the richest, most culturally diverse and artistically blessed communities our size in the world.
It’s a great month to look around and enjoy something new. Go to the symphony or one of our many theaters or museums. Catch an art exhibit at galleries or special art month venues all over town. Or consider putting together your own show at the office. Ask everyone to bring in a work of art or sing a song together during lunch hour. Make your own Valentines.
Imagine something artistic and make it happen.
Be creative. Go wild. It’s almost February, the shortest, richest, most action-packed full-tilt fiesta month!

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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