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J anuary is a long month.

The winter slows everything and whether it’s sniffles or something severe, everybody’s health stumbles a bit. I can’t hide in books and movies, as much as I’ve tried. There needs to be friends; there needs to be the General and Freaktown. There’s basketball, and football playoffs, but they’re frantic, fleeting matches. There’s not the steady march of summer’s sentinel, the great blue-sky game of baseball. Even in the great desert Southwest, it’s hard to barbecue.

I’ve been writing, dreaming and waiting. I’ve been drinking more tea than coffee.

December’s flow of out-of-state pals has dried up. And what’s more, since I’ve seen ’em all so recently, I ain’t got much to say, so there’s little phone or email communication.

January is a long month, with little redemption.

It’s a month of distraction and wheel-spinning. But none of it unpleasant. There’s no rush. Cabin fever is still a month off and in Arizona it’s short and unbelievably mild. I’ll be relaxing under a beautiful blue sky with a bratwurst and monster beer soon, sunburned properly by the seventh inning, sometime the first week of March.

January is a long month, with little redemption, but also little pressure and few worries. It’s an even-keel month, mostly, but maybe leaning just a bit to stir-crazy.

I went to the mountain last week and walked my old favorite trail. I missed a crucial turn – it was either buried by snow or destroyed by fire. So I just turned back, really on a slow saunter more than a hike. The air was cold but full of life. The snow was old, but still six or eight inches deep in places and had turned crunchy. I tried walking like I did as a kid, careful not to break through that top crust, as if tip-toe turned me weightless.

January is a long month, with little redemption but even keel, a pause as much as a start.


Eric Swedlund is a writer, photographer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. His music writing has appeared regularly in the Tucson Weekly, Phoenix New Times, East Bay Express, The Rumpus and Souciant Magazine.

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