January's two faces: brighter light, deeper cold

January 25, 2014 

As the month named in honor of the two-faced Roman god Janus closes this week, it’s pretty certain that he would offer this final bit of advice: “Don’t put your long johns away for a while.”

Lest one forget, January is named for an unchanging truth. Once you think you comprehend, the Roman god presents his other face, sweet sun-laden days of heavens painted with the warming blues of sapphire brilliance, alternating with shivering nights of ice and frozen plumbing.

With icy fangs, Janus snatches at the very soul of the unwary, as his cold breath sweeps east and south, dragging his laden sleigh from across the barren frozen lands of tundra and naked prairie, clearing the way before February’s purification rituals commence, preparing for changes to be.

In January, we learn the truth of the countryman’s caveat: “When the winter light becomes longer, the cold grows stronger.”

The concept is quite reasonable, considering the full penetrating energy of the sun lags well behind the solstices. Just as the sun reached its peak during the final weeks of June, the full heat of the sun’s power is not fully appreciated until the last weeks of August into September. Just as it is when the sun is at its lowest point and its rays at their feeblest in December, bringing Carolinas’ most intensive weather peaks about two months after the annual solstice, as it is with unscheduled autumnal hurricanes and springtime windstorms suggesting the wise one doesn’t retire his long johns in January.

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