The January thaw

Slush in January.

Slush in January.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

January obviously sometimes has a bleak beauty, but….

When I lived in New Hampshire some of the locals, to sort of justify living in a place with a, well, rigorous climate, noted that you were much more likely to get sick down south, where the year-round warmth helps bacteria and viruses to thrive far more than in New England. It reminds me of my former colleague Sam Abt, who smoked a couple of packs of Pall Malls every day and yet who never seemed to get sick even as everyone around him was coughing and sniffling. “No bugs can live down there’’ (in his lungs), he asserted.

To me January is about slowly lifting darkness and taking people to hospitals on roads covered with black ice. So bring on the January thaw, the seed catalogs and the annual beach-pass dues.

The New England Weather Book, by David Ludlum and the editors of the now long-departed Blair & Ketchum’s Country Journal, wrote of the thaw: “{R}esearch has demonstrated that the thaw is a reality and most frequently occurs between January 20 and 26….Although the thaw does not come every year, it has put in an appearance often enough to establish its place as a singular factor of the New England climate.’’

Apparently our January thaw this year will come on Jan. 23-24, unfortunately with rain.

We’ll take it!