I took a little survey while running errands during this month's thaw. I found no one who could explain to me why the thaw happens, even though we are enveloped in it every January like clockwork. And, there seems to be no guidelines as to how high the temperatures must rise and how long for the January thaw to be official. But frankly, when you're finally walking upright at more than a snail's pace, who cares?
Generally, I learned from those surveyed that a January thaw means temperatures are high enough to create dripping off the roof for at least an hour each day. That the phenomenon lasts at least 3 days but longer is better. And it's a grand year when the thaw is accompanied by the sun. And if we really dare to dream big, the thaw and the sun are best if arrival coordinates with at least one weekend. It does in no way mean we lose all our snow. Some years even, it's agreed, the January thaw is not technically a "thaw" but nearer to high freezing temps.
As I write today, the snow is becoming heavy with moisture, falling off the trees and the banks of the creek, creating new noises for my big black lab to bark and growl at as it splashes into the creek.
My friend David tells me the English word for spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning "breath." He suggest that during this January thaw, the earth around me is engaging in a spiritual pursuit, breathing in and breathing out, expanding and contracting. And that's the gift, isn't it; to pay attention to just the simple things like the planet breathing.
"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." ~Henry David Thoreau.