A Time to Tough It Out

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“War-proven winter clothes.”

Who would debate that attention-grabbing boast by Joe’s Army Navy in Royal Oak? Anything capable of keeping our troops warm in Afghanistan should certainly coddle our tender Midwestern hides.

But come February, those necessary bulky coats feel as tired and dingy as road sludge, clinging, barnacle-like, to our wheel wells. In any given year, days 32 through 59 can have the feel of a tour of duty, a time merely to be survived.

When we finally arrive at Feb. 28, we’re “war proven.”

In many ways, life amounts to an ongoing battle to stay comfortable. We turn up the heat; dial it back. Close car windows; roll them back down — all in an effort to maintain equilibrium. Not too cold, nor too hot. Not too loud or too silent. Not too lavish or too spartan.

We avoid the “toos” in life.

When we become two — as in marriage — it’s also about comfort, being at ease with each other. In our annual wedding coverage, we highlight three couples who chose to celebrate their nuptials in and around the Detroit sites where they first became cozy.

After the “I dos,” newlyweds set about creating a happy domestic bubble. But to paraphrase Woody Allen, if we become too mellow, we rot. Like the February groundhog, we need to poke out our snouts. Emerging from our personalized buffer zones with their radiant floors, heated car seats, and pre-programmed entertainment needn’t be painful. Michigan sleigh rides, for example, are just brisk enough to revive our senses. You have to shiver, after all, to enjoy a good mug of cocoa.

Given February’s dull nature, it’s appropriate — even necessary, maybe — that it offers ample opportunity for frivolous distraction — from the Super Bowl (go ahead and have a big sandwich) to Fat Tuesday (worry about those fat calories later).

Add in Valentine’s Day, and slogging through slushy February might not be so bad. When my father was ailing and we were grasping at straws, we pinned our hopes on warmer days ahead. Spring arrived, but crocuses and robins don’t cure everything. As it turned out, those drab winter weeks were absolutely precious.

If you need a serious reminder of the pleasures of any given day — gray or sunny, warm or cold — read our story on Detroit’s Freedom House. Then remember that the month that kicks off with the NFL’s season-ending spectacle ends at baseball’s front door.

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