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Fools’ gold and a false spring

Most years, having a birthday in the Rogue Valley in January feels like sitting inside an igloo in the fog with only the hollow sound of, well, no, there is no sound, hollow or otherwise, on those kinds of January days. No twirpling birds, except frustrated chickadees pecking and cursing the frozen birdbath, no breeze — not even a kind of hush all over the world — just gloom and bleakness to clamp the damper on what should be a joyful occasion.

I usually head for the coast where it’s foggy, windy and a 10-degree-warmer gloom, with gulls, but few fellow humans to speak of. Gulls will complacently keep company with me so long as I toss a Frito their way. They are fair-foodie friends.

This year, I’d booked a week in sunny Scottsdale for my celebration. An inviting condo awaited, and I had planned to visit my sister and family and longtime friends. Then my sis went and fell and broke her femur, dashing any plans for horsing around the Valley of the Sun. (She is healing nicely, thank you.)

Plus, a particularly stubborn state of affairs concerning a certain virus loomed as bleak as any valley fog, so I canceled. I’d played the Pollyanna once again, believing all would be well since I booked far in advance.

But this January, the Rogue Valley isn’t showing its Gloomy Gus side. How about those sunny afternoons? We bask in 60 degrees for three minutes. Anyway, I stayed local. Who gives a flying Wallenda? I sense a heckler in the crowd.

I just celebrated another turn with friends who made aging feel like a ride on a Ferris wheel, as did the two glasses of wine. I don’t feel my age and rarely act it — a lifelong issue. I keep telling myself to grow up, but I won’t listen. Numbers lie. Only my sciatic nerve feels as old as my birth certificate states. I’m thinking of having it removed. Then when people say I have a lot of nerve, I can deny it.

Just like the fool’s gold, which was really pyrite that Curtin and Dobbsy discovered in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” a 1948 movie I highly recommend, Sunday shone sparkly and full of fool’s hope. It taunted us with a spring-like nod and a wink, beckoning us hither. These false springs are like the opening act for a highly anticipated ‘70s rock group. They get us hyped up and fairly crazed with anticipation, then pull the carpet of imaginary buttercups right out from under our sandals and deliver cold, sleety rain. Very well, we can use more rain, just let me dream.

Lane and I met friends Denise and Jerry at Red Lily Winery. From there we moved on down the road to Troon and kicked back under a warming sun that threatened to descend too soon. A halibut dinner at Jacksonville Inn with chocolate mousse pie for dessert capped a perfect day. I hardly felt the tumbler turn.

I have not mentioned the iceberg nights which accompany cool, clear days. They go hand in glove. The heaters are getting a workout, and still I move about the house layered. The air is so dry, my hands are looking like tortoise necks. I find I can rub Eddie the cat on my hair and he sticks. The air is so dry that I can follow Eddie across the bed at night by the sparks he leaves — like those kids’ sneakers, only he isn’t wearing any.

I know these mock spring days won’t last, though a gander at the forecast doesn’t show more than clouds. I did spy a patch of brave little snowdrops bursting forth, in the shade yet.

Crocus will follow, then daffodils and so on. Then, before I know it, they will descend for their annual fly-in, casting ominous shadows across the lawn and leaving donut-sized telltale deposits — vultures will be the true harbingers of spring, which officially begins meteorologically March 1. That’s just a blink over a month away.

Hang in there, little snowdrop, and celebrate.

Peggy Dover is a fair-foodie friend/freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.