In the Lombardy region of Italy where I live, the last days of January are called the days of the blackbird (i giorni della merla).
According to legend, the blackbird was once a white bird. One day in late January, this white-feathered creature and her chicks sought refuge from the cold in a chimney pot. Sometime later, when they emerged, they were found to be completely black from the chimney soot. And black the blackbird’s feathers have remained ever since!
The legend varies slightly from place to place with extended versions, re-mixes and featured “artists”. There is no variation that I know of, however, where the blackbird winds up on the menu (which is odd in this part of the world because Italians are consummate locavores).
In any case, the dates on which the legend takes place, tend to stay the same from region to region. The end of January is supposedly the coldest period of the year, but meteorological records do not back this up.
Personally I don’t mind the end of January (and 2013 is a relatively cold one). I now live in a house with a decent heating system and this has made a big impact on my quality of life during winter.
Moreover, I have my cold weather survival kit:
- ugg boots from New Zealand
- hot water bottle
- woollen gloves
- the occasional hot chocolate
- guilt-free nights on the couch watching TV (it’s too cold to go out!). Last night I watched The Iron Lady – Julia Childs doing an impression of Meryl Streep doing an impression of Thatcher? It was watchable but all a bit superficial, no?)
Blackbird days or otherwise, I’m not ready for Spring just yet!