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What cannot be eschewed must be embraced

In some Februaries, it feels like winter will never end.
Stephanie Mitchell

“What cannot be eschewed must be embraced.”
-- Page, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act Five, scene five

However close the calendar tells us we are to spring, mid-February can still clearly be the dead of winter. The holidays, with their color and deliciousness and socially enforced good cheer, are long past; the northern hemisphere is mired in the long, slow, windy, wet days between the joys of December and the joys of late March. To make matters worse – at least for some of the population – those without romantic partners must suffer through the onslaught of hearts and candy and syrup that hails the coming of Valentine’s Day. (In fact, said onslaught is often as hard on those with partners as it is on those without.) Despite the half-price chocolate widely available from Feb. 15, this month can be bleak indeed.

But there’s nothing to be done. Whether Punxsutawney Phil saw clouds or sun on Feb. 2, the winter lasts as long as it lasts, and short of following the birds south, humans have little choice but to endure however much bad weather remains.

Faced with adverse circumstances, people often resolve to “make the best of it,” a line usually delivered with a grimace that may or may not be an attempt at a smile. This attitude – making the best of something – acknowledges the situation as less than ideal and faces it down with a stiff upper lip. Shakespeare’s Page subtly takes this idea one step further. Rather than simply accepting unpleasant things with the best grace one can muster, Page advocates turning the circumstance into something to be enjoyed, welcomed even. Far beyond grinning and bearing it, Page wants us genuinely to grin.

Yet another wet, windy day can be occasion for grumbling (even if what we’re grumbling is a weary “mustn’t grumble”) or for putting a pot of root vegetables on the stove to stew, lighting every candle in the house and settling in for a marathon evening of our favorite movies. Whatever the weather this week, winter’s days are numbered. Before we know it, it will be sunny and warm, and staying home of an evening will seem like a waste of a spring opportunity. We can’t make the winter pass faster – but with all things cinnamon, slow-cooked and cozy soon to be retired for the year, why would we want to?

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