February must certainly be the most awkward, clumsy and miserable month of the year. The days are still short — and miserably cold. By the time Feb. 1 rolls around life’s grimy little hands are reaching to strangle any sanity we have remaining after the holidays.
According to an article in the Washington Post on Aug. 4, 2015, “In a 2005 Gallup survey — the most recent year the survey firm asked this question — Gallup asked 1,000 Americans about their favorite month. May came in first, with October running a close second. June and December tied for third, with July and April tied for fifth. In a grave injustice, Americans ranked the winter months of January and February dead last.”
To prepare for this article I read quite a number of self-help articles about “how to learn to love winter.” So far my favorite approach to coping with February is to binge-watch a bunch of movies.
I was greatly amused by a Feb. 5, 2022, article in the Boston Globe titled, “This reporter perfectly summed up how miserable February is, and everyone agreed.” The article said: “A longtime St. Louis reporter’s bleak ode to February has struck a new chord with a national audience, several years after it first went viral with residents of the city. Delivered with a tone of existential dread, Kevin Killeen was unreserved in his assessment of the month — and it appears many relate to his glum appraisal. ‘February is the worst month of the year.’”
A photograph shows a gray, gritty, and gloomy downtown cityscape and the article reports, “This looks like a place where people who are being punished are sent. … My father used to have a saying that if you can live through February, you’ll live another year.”
I laughed when he wrote, “I avoid all major decisions in February — vacuuming, haircuts, swing dance lessons. ...” The article further explained that the reporter, “was always getting in trouble for injecting humor into the news.”
Fortunately, trees in downtown Westminster are festooned with bright and sparkling lights. And it seems that Carroll County pulls out all the stops to have many great social and community events. Perhaps we need to invite the St. Louis reporter to Westminster?
Many interesting events have happened in Carroll County in February. Of course, it should be no surprise that much of the news involved bad weather and natural disasters.
According to research by the Historical Society of Carroll County, the Jan. 27, 1922, issue of the Union Bridge Pilot newspaper mentioned St. Matthias Day, “Another bit of old weather lore comes on February 24, St. Matthias day. According to the old saying: ‘If he finds ice, he’ll break it. If he finds none, he’ll make it.’”
In Carroll County, we are not always as lucky as Matthias in February. On Feb. 19, 1893, a tornado destroyed many buildings including the steeple at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ at the corner of Green and Bond streets.
According to research by historian Joe Getty for the historical society, a lengthy article in the February 1893 edition of the Democratic Advocate provided the following details of the storm:
“A violent storm, approaching the force of a hurricane, passed over this city and a portion of this county on Sunday night last.” The article reports, “Smith Hall, the north wing of the principal building of Western Maryland College, seems to have received the full force of the tempest and was unroofed and damaged to the extent of probably a thousand dollars.”
Carroll County Daily Headlines
On Feb. 18, 1899, the Democratic Advocate ran an article titled “Heavy Snow Storm — Railroads and Public Roads Blockaded — Westminster Cut Off from Outside Communication — Deepest Snow for Many Years — For four days last week and three this week snow fell almost continuously, and the total depth attained was nearly of quite three feet.
“Not only has the snowfall been unprecedented for many years, but the extreme cold has exceeded all past records in severity and duration.” The article went on to explain that the temperature remained below zero for a good bit of the month and reached 27 degrees below zero in parts of Carroll County. Yikes.
An article by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the “cold wave that would become known as the ‘Great Arctic Outbreak’ took the United States by storm. People across the nation braced for the worst as … temperatures plummeted throughout the first two weeks of February 1899.”
More than 30 inches of snow fell in the Baltimore area and for those who see Florida as a refuge from the cold, the temperature reached “−2°F in Tallahassee on February 13. … On February 17, ice was even witnessed flowing down the Mississippi River, past New Orleans, and into the Gulf of Mexico.”
Beside movies and the winter lights on Main Street in Westminster, another saving grace is that every Feb. 3 is National Carrot Cake Day. For “Three tasty new ways to prepare carrot cake,” read Carrie Knauer’s April 22, 2019, article in the Carroll County Times.
There is nothing we can do about February except change our attitude. Get out of the house and get together with friends at any of the great restaurants in the county — and leave room for carrot cake for dessert.
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at email@example.com.