Ah, February, so full of joy
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's the matter, that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
William Shakespeare

Not I, William! I am a happy February child, full of my birthday, Valentine's Day and, this year, the Winter Olympics!

I started celebrating by attending another Aquarian birthday party: Brett Schetzsle, who is running for state representative in Beverly, had an event Saturday evening. Chip and I went over for a delicious pasta supper, cake and ice cream.

It was a special treat for me: Brett and his wife introduced their December-born twin daughters to their supporters. Because I was caring for my mother in Pennsylvania when my twin grandchildren were born in Nevada, I didn't get to see them at that early age. Schetzsle grandparents: They're cute now, but wait until they are 8 years old and make you valentines. Aidan's was my dream card, white lace with a pink heart, sent with a 7UP can riddled with BB gun holes he created himself.

Maya's card was a heart face with 14 little eyes; she is an original. When told by her dance teacher to pretend she is leaping over a pool of sharks, she said it would be scarier to pretend it was a pool of politicians. Where'd she get THAT?

It was also fun on Saturday to sit with members of the Beverly Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, chat for a few minutes with Rep. Brad Hill and meet some nice people who like my column. Let me give a shout-out to them here.

I picked up the "shout-out" phrase from Sarah Palin, who shares my birthday week. I am starting a Sarah Palin Club. The only requirement for membership is to talk like her when you're around people who don't like her. E.g., instead of, "We're going to take back this country from the politicians who don't respect the Constitution and the taxpayers," we say, "We're gonna take back this country from the dang elitist folks out there who disrespect the Constitution and the taxpayers, you betcha."

What inspired this club was the silly criticism of her writing some notes on her hand. I have given hundreds of speeches, done hundreds of interviews. You don't write on your hand so you remember what you're supposed to say; you do this because you want to say so much there are so many directions you can go, so many different ways to respond to a question that you want to stay focused and make your most important points without getting off on a tangent. So you write a.b.c. on a notecard or your hand if you don't have pockets.

This is not to say I'm supporting Sarah for president; I'm still with Mitt Romney, who despite what The Boston Phoenix reports, is not blaming mankind for climate change.

As Washington, D.C., digs out from almost 3 feet of global warming, Vancouver actually was missing natural snow for the beginning of the Winter Olympics. But the opening ceremony was a tribute to man-made magnificence. While the Chinese had celebrated the collective in their 2008 opening ceremony, Canada celebrated the hardy individuals who populate their country from the frozen tundra with its northern lights to the very livable West Coast city that I visited for an International Taxpayers Association meeting in '98.

The boy flying over the wheat fields! The skiers and snowboarders traveling on wires up and down the virtual Rockies! My favorite singer, k.d. lang, performing my favorite song, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." And then the actual Olympic sports, which I watched all week while doing business-required data entry on my laptop: the daredevil athletes on the slopes, the racers, the joyous pair skaters on the ice especially the Chinese, individuals again as they danced.

I've loved the Olympics all my life, and marvel at how the human athletic potential improves every four years. You'd think there'd be an evolutionary plateau, where you wouldn't notice the changes in jumping and spinning abilities, the faster running and skating speeds, for centuries.

Writing ability seems to remain more constant; there are great modern writers, but they don't improve upon the favorites of my youth. This month, I said goodbye to not only J.D. Salinger, but to his entire Glass family who I hadn't realized would now be senior citizens themselves, those who survived, if Salinger had chosen to update their stories.

As a college coed, I related to the alienation not of Holden Caulfield but the youngest Glass child. Franny was created, college-age, when I was 12, in "Franny and Zooey," one of three books in the Glass family trilogy.

Years later, living in Greece, I cared for two stray cats I named Franny and Zooey. Eventually Franny delivered Seymour, Buddy and BooBoo, named for other Glass kids.

One February, for my birthday treat, my husband drove me to the site of the original summer Olympics in Olympia. Off-season, it was quiet and almost sacred. No frost, storm or cloudiness, only blue Hellenic skies.

Shakespeare, who sited "A Midsummer Night's Dream" outside Athens, should have realized that sometimes, February is a perfect midwinter month.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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