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February 29, 2008

Our (extra) gray day

We in Chicago have had quite enough of winter, so waking up on this Feb. 29 to find more snow, more gray skies, more dank water filling perilous pot holes was a bummer. Enough! What a waste of our extra day, I gloomed to myself, on my drive to work as I maneuvered around those too-familiar pot holes and observed earnest, if weary, folk lifting shovels or steering snowblowers yet again.

Last Sunday a friend at church mused, “Why didn’t they add the extra day to June?” Who wouldn’t enjoy one more day of summer? Or even one at the end of November, when we sure could use the time as we’re already behind with our Christmas to-do lists?

But now is when we’ve got those extra 24 hours. So we might as well enjoy them.

Here’s how: First, visit Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, which opens with a poem he chooses and includes daily musings. If you like it, as much as I do, you can have it delivered as an e-newsletter. Today’s fare begins with a stunning poem by W.H. Auden, "As I Walked Out One Evening," that addresses the preciousness of our every day, and it includes a wry history of the origins of Leap Day—some of which we’re all heard but not this, I’ll bet: “When Great Britain finally accepted the Gregorian calendar in 1751, 11 days had to be deleted from the year. The change led to antipapal riots, because people believed the pope had shortened their lives.”

Next, for further attitude adjustment to the winter blahs, read this prayer from Mary Jean Iron—one I love better than I live:

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass by in a quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” (A Grateful Heart, ed. by M.J. Ryan, Conari Press, 1994.)

This gray day suddenly doesn’t feel so boring—to me, at least. Maybe for you, too?

And guess what, the sun just broke through.

Comments

Pat Long

Pat Long

Posted at 1:16 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2008

I must be a terribly negative person. I have never thought of leap year as having an extra day, but that every February is a day or two less than the other months.

I love all gray days. The pace seems to slow down a bit. Guess everyone is half asleep. The media promotes the idea that a gray day is a bad day, and they are quick to tell us when we can expect a GOOD day, with sunshine. We actually buy into that. OK, so you can't take a sunbath on a gray day. But what else can't you do? I can think of very little that would fit into that category. Every good, ordinary day is a gift. We can open it and enjoy it, or hold onto it while we wait for something better. Who knows what we would be missing?

Kathy

Kathy

Posted at 4:53 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/4/2008

You could be another Pat, my sister. She prefers gray days. I don't really mind a gray day—just so many of them in a row are touch, even disorienting as 10 a.m. looks pretty much like 4p.m. No shadows or slants of filtering sunlight.

But you're absolutely right: "Every good, ordinary day is a gift." 

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