Flannel, Peace and Hunger

With yesterday being Leap Day – a once-every-four-years event – I wanted to do something special. February 29th is rare, and it practically screamed for something unique and fun. Adventurous, even. I contemplated various ideas in my head, but quickly dismissed most of them, as they fell a little short of what I was aiming for (namely, living to see another day). Skydiving? Hell, no. Bungee jumping? Not on your life. Taking a stroll down the aisle of Walmart? Never in a million years. It was too cold and wet for hiking, or a trip to the beach, or even a jaunt downtown. However, I realized that I had never once, in my entire life, curled up beneath a set of flannel sheets in the middle of the afternoon while reading a good book.

And so, that’s precisely what I did yesterday, for about ninety minutes.

I am hooked on The Hunger Games trilogy, and Tara got me books two and three for Valentine’s Day, so I have been eagerly lapping up Catching FireI usually knock out two or three chapters before bed, but am so engrossed in the story I didn’t want to wait that long. Besides, Suzanne Collins has this annoying little habit of ending each and every chapter with a mini cliffhanger, making each book extremely difficult to put down. I find myself wanting to keep reading, regardless of the hour, just to find out what happens next! It’s a rare book that can captivate me so strongly; few novels – of any genre –  have ever managed the feat of pulling me in like this. So, even though crawling into bed at 1:30 in the afternoon is the epitome of decadent laziness, I did indeed find myself in that very position on Wednesday. Better still, I wasn’t wearing pants. But only because jeans and flannel sheets don’t mix. It would have been absurdly pointless to keep them on. Those sheets, by the way, were a gift from Tara’s mom, Tracy. I’d remarked how much I liked them last week when we were staying with her, and next thing I know she’s practically shoving them in my suitcase, imploring me to take them home. I swear I wasn’t hinting, but they are flannel, and have peace symbols all over them. What was I supposed to do, pretend I’m not secretly a hippie at heart? What with my Woodstock records and lava lamps and stash of LSD?

Leap Day 2012: flannel sheets, peace symbols, and a good book!

Kidding about the LSD.

I’d never owned flannel sheets before, always believing they would be too warm and uncomfortable. My body temperature has always run warm, anyway. Right up until my gallbladder surgery in November. Ever since, my internal thermostat seems to have readjusted itself, and I find myself much colder than I’d ever been before, or am used to. Tara suggested it might be the blood pressure medication, and there’s some evidence that elevated blood pressure might, indeed, cause a person to feel warmer than others around him. I have no idea whether this is the case or not, but I can tell you that those flannel sheets are a godsend every night. I slip beneath the covers come bedtime and don’t have to put up with chattering teeth, no matter how cold it is. They keep me nice and toasty, and are plenty soft.

Plus, they’ve got peace symbols on ’em. Have I mentioned that?

As nice as my afternoon reading-in-bed break was, I couldn’t stay there for long. I just felt too damn guilty whiling away the day in such fashion, while plenty of other people were going about their routines, stuck in cubicles or bussing tables or bungee jumping or wandering the aisles of Walmart. I allowed myself that hour and a half, but then forced myself to get up and put pants back on.

Before heading downstairs to the couch, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, while my first Leap Day since my last Leap Day wasn’t exactly chock full of excitement, I still managed to do something fun and different. Man, I can’t wait to see what my next Leap Day will bring.

The day after Leap Day has not been without its share of thrills, however. This started with a phone call at 6:05 in the morning, rousing me from a luxurious sleep courtesy of my peace symbol flannel sheets. It was an automated phone message from the kids’ school district informing me that CLASSES WOULD BEGIN TWO HOURS LATE DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER. Inclement weather? I wondered. Nobody had been forecasting anything more exciting than rain. Skeptical, I peeked through the blinds, and was greeted with the unexpected sight of snow. Quite a bit of snow, actually. Gleaming and white and covering the neighborhood in glorious wonder. This, after a disappointing winter largely void of anything even remotely exciting. Plus, it was March now. I read somewhere a few days ago that the odds of Portland seeing measurable snow after February 25 are about 1%. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I did what any perfectly sane 42-year old parent would do in this situation: leaped out of bed, threw on a robe, dashed into the hall, and excitedly encouraged my kids to look outside, look outside!! 

I have really got to get a grip on this snow fever of mine.

Besides, here it is, 2 PM and everything is completely melted save for a few sparse patches in the shade. Those, too, will be gone by sunset. What’s the point of getting excited over a couple of inches of heavy, wet snow when it’s all gone within hours, anyway?

Actually, the answer is simple. I’d rather enjoy a brief, fleeting glimpse of beauty than to never experience it at all.

A great philosophy for life, by the way.

Totally worth the few hours it stuck around.