Feisty, Fabulous February

Poor maligned February.

In the Northern Hemisphere, it is hated by most … in spite of having the day-for-love being plopped in the middle of it. Most people think February’s only redeeming quality is that it’s mercifully short.

For the most part, I can’t disagree.

However this year, February has been remarkably well-behaved. None of the major temper tantrums of the past two winters, and yes, while we woke up this morning to a thick blanket of fresh snow and a nasty northwest wind, February has been teasing us all month with mostly spring-like weather.

A snowy winter day through my kitchen window

I am however prepared to forgive her transgressions of the past. This has been a month when being outdoors has been a treat rather than a misery.

A walk along the shore of Lake Ontario, with a column of sunlight breaking through the clouds.

However having said that, being on the water in February wouldn’t have been an obvious choice for me, but this guy was embracing the day.

I’ve always wanted to go away in February, as many Canadians do, seeking a place of warmth and sunshine to break up the long winter.

This year I was finally given that opportunity … but to Ireland. Husband’s annual sales conference has, over the years, normally been held in sunny California, however this year they decided to shake things up a bit.

But Ireland? In February?

Of course I wanted to go. February or not.

Cue the wind, the rain, and the cold.

The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is an unusual, naturally-occurring rock formation that would normally be swarming with tourists during the summer months.

We had it practically to ourselves and although I was struggling to stay on my feet in the heavy wind, I couldn’t have been happier.

The remains of Donluce Castle, Northern Ireland

Before I knew it, I was back into the day-to-day at home, and miraculously pulled into a wonderful online art class, called Abstractify.

I say ‘miraculous’ because it hasn’t been easy for this logical, Type A brain to simply “let go” and trust this alien place known as creativity.

I’m grateful that we work at our own pace because I find I’m repeating the exercises I find fun and engaging, while dragging my feet to get up the nerve to try others that are challenging and uncomfortable.

Like my first nude.

She didn’t look at all like this one.

She was terribly deformed, but my cup of pride runneth over. I work hard to prevent any innate lack of ability from discouraging me trying something new (said with tongue-in-cheek).

Sometimes it just takes a while to crank up the nerve. It made the second one so much easier to attempt… and rather more human-looking, in my ever-so-humble opinion.

After all, life is all about showing up … even during the feisty days of February.

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I discovered that I’ve missed storytelling, so I’m back with this month’s Changing Seasons challenge hosted by Su Leslie at Zimmerbitch.

125 comments

  1. I wish I had spent my February freezing in the majestic outdoors of Ireland 😀 Fantastic! It was a short month, yes, and it flew by, yes, but I didn’t have near the happiness of any other month in the last year, so I’m taking my joy in March!
    Your art is good. Your nude makes me wanna get out in the sunshine. Keep at it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that thought – taking my joy in March. So far it’s been such an unseasonably warm month, there is a lot of joy to be had 🙂

      Thanks Joey for the encouragement. I have one ambitious art project currently in the works and many more planned. It would be a cliche to say I wish I had discovered this earlier, but I’m loving it now that I have 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Joanne,
    I’m so glad to be reading your writing again…after a difficult jolt in Lisbon.
    I hate February (and January, March, and mudseason-in-NH April) hence our snowbird decision. But I hear from friends and family that it has been a remarkably mild winter. Ireland in winter is not usually a snowbird destination, but it looked like a fascinating trip.
    Most of our good friends here in Lake Placid are from Ontario so I know that lots of Canadians are snowbirds as well.
    And I love the nude; life is all about “showing up”, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many of my family and friends are snowbirds. They start flocking south in October and pop back up like spring flowers at the end of April.
      We’ve never been sun-bunnies attracted to the warm climes of the Caribbean like many Ontarians. When Gilles eventually decides to retire, I can’t see us ever joining the flock. I’m still lobbying for the south of France 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been so horridly absent from the blogosphere lately (if one may call a period of three years ‘lately’) and have missed so many things. I am sorry for the events in Lisbon, sorry you thought about giving up blogging, glad you changed your mind, happy to read about your creative endeavours and further travel adventures and in awe of your talent and tenacity. Long may it continue.

    Liked by 1 person

      • So far our area is okay, but it won’t be long before the cases start popping up. I’m a little concerned about my folks (they’re in Washington and in their late 80’s) but so far no cases confirmed in their county. I’m a hermit, so I suspect I’ll be okay. I heard that Canada has started seeing cases pop up. I hope you’re weathering this well.

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        • You are right to be concerned. The elderly are particularly vulnerable if the virus spreads into a retirement home.

          Right now we are doing pretty well although cases are expected to grow. Unlike the SARS epidemic from many years ago, so far we’ve been relatively unscathed in Toronto. I hope it remains that way.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow – good job! You’re inspiring me. I’ve wanted to take a watercolor class for years. This past December I joined a day-long ‘retreat’ at a woman’s house not far from me where about a dozen women tried out writing (I have that one down, I think ), making earrings (nah, too much fun to buy funky ones) or paint notecards with watercolors. I tried that one. I could have stayed for HOURS. For DAYS. It was that much fun. And my cards weren’t bad (so the artist-teacher told me). Have no idea when I’ll get to do that again. I hope you stay with your class. You’re good!
    (February is my brutal month, so yes, we go away. I need something warm to dry my frozen tears.) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • My brutal month is March. By the time I get to March, I’m so over winter and just want a bit of kindness from Mother Nature. Instead she usually delivers a psychotic mess of a month … but I keep wishing and hoping.

      I’ve always wanted to join the ranks of ‘artistic’ people, but have never really tried … convinced that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. But I am discovering it is a ‘muscle’ and the more it’s exercised, the better it gets. I have no delusions of grandeur. This is just for fun … and I’m definitely having fun 😀
      I find watercolours hard though – really hard.It sounds like you might have a knack for them. Maybe you’ll be inspired now to continue exploring with them!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been happy that this winter has been mild! Ireland is on my bucket list. So much green and beauty. I’m sure you had an amazing time!! That sounds like a fun art class. I’m quite impressed by your nude. My painting skills are meh. lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve always admired that about you, Joanne – your gung-ho spirit of trying new things, like when you tried rock-climbing (which I still haven’t gotten around to do!).

    I love your nude – not only is it proportionally pleasing, I love the “abstract” touches you put to it! Looking forward to seeing more of your work!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, it’s good to stretch creatively, but do what makes you happy, Joanne. Back when I could travel a little, I liked going to places outside tourist times. It looks like you really enjoyed yourself. Beautiful, but horsefeathers that does look cold!
    Way down here in the high desert we got snow twice in February. (Much more than that up in the mountains. The elevation here is 4000+ feet. In the mountains it’s up to 7000 and one peak is 11000 ft.) Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hahha, Joanne, do you know how to party in winter or what? This video told me all I wished to know. Brrrr!! But I’m glad you seized the season and had the place for yourself, and that you are taking the art course. I’m impressed with this nude and entertained by your self-critique. I love the shading (or what is the term).

    Liked by 2 people

    • If there is one thing Canadians know, it’s winter 😀

      Thanks for your kind words about my nude. I’m pretty impressed with her too. A part of me wants to quit painting now while I’m ahead 😉
      … you know of course, that’s not going to happen!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. February isn’t my favorite month either… and who had the bright idea to give us the extra day in a cold month… why not in August??? Ireland in February wouldn’t be my first choice but, I agree, why the heck not?! Sometimes you just have to go with it, and it looks like you had a great time. Like the others have said, I think your nude is fantastic! Great work!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never thought of it that way, but you’re right. Why an extra day in February? Someone had the good sense to make it a short month in the first place.

      Buoyed by all the nice comments about my nude, today is the day I will tackle the next scary challenge in this art course. The hard part is letting go of expectations.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve had a good February as well, Joanne, although I didn’t do any distance traveling. But we did have one lovely snow, which I loved. We have lots of wind here as well, but no giant steps like those! Sounds as if your trip was excellent and you’re doing well with the art.

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Better outside than inside, Joanne. Brrrr …. that seafoam appears to be snow that you manage to leave behind in Toronto. I must admit, my first thought on the painting is a smiley face until you told us that is a nude painting. See … my mind is so abstract. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahahaha!! I’m laughing because I too saw the smiley face! Great minds 😀

      I did a double-take when I first saw the flying sea foam. I initially thought it was snow. I’ve never seen a body of water foam like that before. I was quite fascinated by it … while hoping I didn’t get any blown into my face 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Traveling in the winter can be fun and that place is so weird with the rock formations! It reminds me of a place in Calif. with similar rock formations called the Devil’s Postpile National Monument or Park. It’s been years since I have visited.

    Oh my, your nude painting is really neat! ^5! for sticking with it, and stepping outside your comfort zone!! February has been good for you this year en mon avis!

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    • I agree! This February has been more than decent 🙂

      I just looked up Devil’s Postpile and omg! This looks like such a great place to go for a hike. I haven’t done any research to find out how these rock formations were created. So amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Let me know when you’re coming to check out that park and do some hiking. I’ll join you!

        If I remember correctly it’s volcanic basalt columns formed by lava a long, long time ago. I could be wrong though!

        There’s a waterfall there that’s been on my bucket list for awhile. The last two times I tried to go were in the fall and they had closed the park for winter already.

        I need to make a trip when they open it which I hope is when they open Tioga Pass or sooner. That’s usually the end of May or June depending on the snow pack.

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  13. I’m still floored by your newly found artistic talent! The nude is outstanding. Is this done with a martini in hand?? The guy on the SUP is kind of a loon, but in the same breath – my hero. Happy your winter hasn’t been too brutal, ours has been nice, but also with a bunch of snow – nice balance. Lucky you to travel to Ireland – I haven’t been there in a LONG time. Like 25 years. When I went, we hiked the Ring of Kerry for a week in torrential rains. We spent most of our time looking at our feet to avoid slipping on cow patties. lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure how I managed to miss your comment! No painting was done under the influence of alcohol, but I can’t guarantee a gummy wasn’t involved 😉

      Hiking for a week in rain wouldn’t have been a lot of fun, but I hope you weren’t camping. At least a hot shower and a warm bed at night would make a huge difference … not to mention some decompression time at a local pub 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s not every day that anyone living in a cold climate describes February as fabulous… and it really works well with feisty.

    Have never been to Ireland but it sure sounds awfully tempting. Those rock formations are fascinating!

    Ahh the human form is the hardest thing to draw. And yet, once you master it, then apparently you can draw anything! I used to go to live figure drawing from models and its probably easier than doing it abstract as you have something to look at and to guide the eye. But am totally with you that trying new things and getting out of our comfort zone is fun and stimulates growth. Bravo.

    Peta

    Liked by 2 people

    • Photography taught me a lot about observation, composition, shadow and light. Since I started painting, it has cranked it up several notches. If I used to see things I wanted to photograph, now I see things I’d like to paint. There is boundless inspiration!
      I will never be a great talent, but I like the zen-like feeling I have while painting.

      Like

  15. I love the idea of going somewhere out of season (even though I am a heat and sun fiend)! One January, my sister and I went to Russia, and it was awesome! I didn’t get my warmth break that winter, but it was worth it just for the change-up of cold locations. (Somebody else’s cold is so much better – haha.) Good for you for trying some activities out of your comfort zone; that also sounds like a good winter plan, and I may have to try it myself sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

      • We are fine, thanks, Joanne, but a couple of miles away people have had a dreadful time with the River Severn. It’s forever been prone to bad flooding, but this year it did some of its worst. The main problem being a winter of rain and nowhere for excess to drain to.

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        • Glad to hear that you haven’t been affected by the worst of the weather.

          A few years ago I became aware that the area I live in used to be swampy. There was a small creek that ran through the area and it was buried when this subdivision was built. To my horror, I learned that creek runs underground between our house and our neighbour to the west.
          Now, whenever we get unusually heavy rains (which seems more and more common), I wonder what that little underground creek is doing 😱

          This house is almost 50 years old and has never flooded, but there is a first time for everything …
          I keep my fingers crossed and my eyes on the basement whenever it rains.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The things people do! That IS a very big problem though – burying water courses, and then subsequent residents have no idea what’s there, or the implications. We have a brook fed by hill water that runs through the middle of the town. The Victorians culverted it through the centre (because is smelled from all the human effluent), but at least they made a big culvert. Then around 2000 the highways people thought they’d strengthen the road that goes over it and so replaced the large arched chamber with a concrete boxed effort half the size, which then means in times of heavy rain it can back up and then flood over the top and back into town. It cost a lot of money to create this bit of nonsense, and a lot of misery for people whose homes flooded in 2007.

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            • Good grief! You’d think they’d know better … understand weather patterns and all that stuff.
              Far too many decisions are made for convenience/ cost ‘savings’ rather than what’s right for the people and environment.

              Liked by 1 person

  16. How startling to see the paddle-boarder on Lake Ontario. That’s keen! Lovely winter photos all round.

    My husband and I went to the Giants Causeway about 30 years ago. It was winter and there weren’t many tourists in that day and age. We loved it. Winter is the best time of year to go IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Naturally occurring rock formations! Wow. Lucky you, glad you enjoyed your trip to Ireland. One day I’d like to go, although it did look so cold! Brrrr.

    The art class sounds lovely. It’s great to step out of our comfort zone and try something new, keeps the blood flowing or something like that. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this was one of the nicest Februarys I’ve had in a very long time …. not counting the days until summer, but simply enjoying each new day as it was. I recommend it 😀

      Like

      • Is that a basil plant on your kitchen window sill? If so, I have a matching one on mine which has somehow managed to survive for 15 months and keep putting out leaves, which I pluck off and use in my cooking.

        I’m fairly adventurous, but the sight of that person on the SUP out on the chilly lake just made me shiver.

        Jude

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        • It is a basil plant … or I should say, was. It finally gave up about a week ago 😕 … but this week I replaced it with 2 more! I love basil … I love the plant, I love the smell, I love it in my food 🙂

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  18. Great title, Joanne! Beautiful photos! I can (almost) smell, feel the fresh, calm, crisp day. It looks calm on the water. I have now put Ireland on a maybe list after seeing your photos and posts. I put the sound on for the video, and yes, windy! I have seen some of your artwork, Joanne, and I find you are very creative. I whole-heartedly agree “life is about showing up.” You are an inspiration, Joanne!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Yay a good month! Getting outside, travel (I’ve been to Ireland in February!!) and creativity. Love the nude and the fact that you’re making art. Life IS about showing up and you do that with such energy and enthusiasm.

    So glad you’re back with The Changing Seasons. I’ve missed you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • We were living in England at the time, so it wasn’t much of a change. Though five years ago, we did leave the NZ summer for Bordeaux (cold; relentless rain), Munich (extremely cold; snow) and England (some rain, but surprisingly mild with sunshine). Oh and San Fransisco (overcast with too much time spent in department stores trailing the boy-child spending his birthday money — sigh).

        So glad to have you back.

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    • The way I looked at it, the weather wasn’t going to be worse than Toronto in February. I was right 🙂

      I am so proud of that nude. In fact I’m proud even of the first one in spite of all her deformities 😉
      Now I’m trying to screw up the courage to attempt the next challenge. I wish the pit of my stomach didn’t attach a life-or-death feeling to each of these challenges.

      Like

    • The full extent of my artiness as a child was limited to colouring books and paint-by-numbers. It just wasn’t something on my radar, nor was it encouraged at school or home. In a lot of respects, learning art now is like getting to be a kid again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • That makes 2 of us. March is my least favourite month of the year. She is moody and cantankerous at the best of times, although as someone pointed out one day, March is the only action month of the year. I rather like that and I prefer to focus on this positive point … even while I’m gritting my teeth in frustration 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always liked the Changing Seasons challenge. I never quite know what the end result of the post is going to be even as I’m writing it. It always seems to take on a life of its own 🙂

      Like

  20. Wow, that wind was really blowing. I think it’s a good idea to visit foreign lands when the weather is at its most extreme. That way you can decide whether or not you’d like to live there. But I’ll bet Ireland is beautiful any time of year.
    You have an eye for color, in my view, and that’s why I like your abstracts. Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess I’ll never be accused of visiting a country just for its weather. I must say though, I developed quite an appreciation for Irish Whiskey 😉

      Thanks for the compliment, but this one was actually my 2nd nude. Let’s just say that the first one had some serious anatomical issues 😀

      Like

  21. Only you could make February sound so uplifting – well done! I envy you Ireland in February – I was there this past summer with my two granddaughters and even though we had fun,the tourist crowds were a bit overwhelming. I’m sure your abstract was much more interesting, more Picasso like!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the problem with travelling in high season – the crowds will suck the joy out of anyplace.
      In spite of the wind and rain, I fell in love with the country and hope to go back again some day.

      What a wonderful experience for both you and your granddaughters to travel together. I remember that this would not have been your first trip with the girls. When I was young, I had a friend whose grandmother took her on a trip every summer. I was so jealous!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think we convince ourselves we can’t do something and it becomes our reality. Certainly any form of artiness is like that for me. It’s fun to explore what I might be capable of, but the hard part is keeping my expectations at bay.

      I agree about March. This is a grouchy, unpredictable month!

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  22. I agree about February being the least wonderful month of the year for us in the northern hemisphere. However you look like you found some wonderful ways to fill it, instead of fretting about it. Good job. I love your art, the colors are the complete antithesis to February gloom.

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    • Winter is such a gloomy time of year, I’ve never understood why winter clothing tends to be so dark. Whenever I go out, it’s a sea of black coats. I just don’t get it. If ever there was a time for bright colours, the dead of winter is it!!
      I love the yellow jacket Gilles is wearing in the video. He’s so easy to find in a crowd 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I never had the opportunity to try skiing and now I think I’m a tad old to try. I fear the body isn’t quite as forgiving as it once was and won’t bounce back from a bad tumble.
      However, as far as Februarys go, this one was a good one 🙂

      Like

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