Can’t bear January. It feels twice as long as any other month, while the days don’t seem to get longer, the dark clouds sit on the rooftops, in the enormously boring sales prices keep plummeting until in the end the shops may pay us to take away some unwanted stuff – it’s a universal UGH of heroic proportions.
But then some small pleasures hop in and the mood lightens.
Today, for instance, I bought a bag of kiwi fruit in my local shop, and when I looked at the label, I saw, “Grown by Zeus, Greece.” I almost dropped the bag. Can it be that my six kiwis had been grown by the chief God of ancient Greece, the King of Olympus, the invincible Thunderer and victor of every battle? Dare I eat them? Does their possession promote me in some small way? Will they taste…divine?
Well, it certainly gave me several minutes of glee, wondering whether Zeus’s need to grow fruit and veg for an English supermarket, instead of chasing goddesses and nymphs, was somehow connected with the current parlous state of the Greek economy. And that brought on images of the Greek sea, the scintillating light, the essence of my best-ever summers in that country …a more than small joy.
Then, still resenting January, its very name made me think again. January, of course: it’s the month of Janus, the mysterious two-faced Roman god who looks both ways, towards past and future, with equal dignity. Most of all he is the god of beginnings. The first hour of the day, the first day of the month and the first month of the year belong to him; so do doors and gateways (and, presumably, janitors, who guard the entrances of apartment blocks in America.) Beginnings. Nice idea. Qualifies as a small pleasure. Perhaps things will begin to get better. Perhaps there IS life after birth, courtesy of Janus.
If by now you wonder whether I am an addict of ancient myths, the answer is yes. My mother used to read them to me when I was a child and I’ve never recovered from those riveting stories. (Naturally they were bowdlerised tales; I didn’t find out about Zeus’s sex life and other interesting extras until much later.) And, on a deeper level, myths are also about us, without the magical bits; the tussles, jealousies, intrigues and passions of the inhabitants of Olympus are played out every day among us on a smaller scale here and now. Personally I find that quite amusing.
But back to small pleasures. My third one occurred today when I dropped in on some friends for a brief chat. There were five of us sitting together, when the house cat, a magnificent Siamese, sauntered into the room, surveyed us and then landed on my lap and made itself comfortable, showing signs of contentment. Anyone familiar with feline psychology will recognize this as a sign of approval, especially from a member of that majestic breed, and I felt accordingly accepted and promoted. Perhaps January isn’t all that dreadful.
Well, that’s all for today, and these were my small pleasures.
What would yours be?