Essay — Ambivalent January

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The standard January forecast: fickle weather.

This year is no exception. Early in the month, when unseasonable highs hit northern climes, the snow melted and weather forecasters discussed a warmer-than-usual season.

Then wintry blasts nipped New York and New England. Sleet and freezing rain slushed over New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, and Pennsylvania. Arctic air hovered above North Dakota, Minnesota, and Missouri. Rain squalls blew in and drenched Indiana. A cold front blanketed the Carolinas, slipped into Georgia, then drifted down to Florida.

A few shivers later and the discussion turned to a cooler-than-usual season.

What else would you expect from a month named for a double-faced Roman god except weather that’s of two minds?

Fortunately January consists of more than atmospheric conditions. The garnet-and-carnation month also hosts a pair of famous birthdays.

On the 8th, fans and Graceland remembered Elvis (the day would have been his 69th). A week later, on the 15th, Martin Luther King—-and a dream—-were born. In the true spirit of their birth month’s ambivalence, both men were hated before they were loved.

Here in Carpenter Country (where the January weather changes hourly), another birthday is also on the calendar.

And we can vacillate with the best. On one hand, we hate getting older. On the other, we love to celebrate.

So we’ve arrived at a solution that we think suits the season: we’ll light the candles…but refuse to count them. That way we get to eat our cake and enjoy it too.

Now if only we could control the weather…



HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter duo who write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit Carpenter Country at


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