Leaping On Leap Day

I’ve always wondered why the extra day in a leap year wasn’t added to June. Or July, or August. Any month, in fact, other than February.

February, at least for those of us here in northern latitudes, usually seems to drag on forever—even when it’s only 28 days long. On Cape Cod, the accepted wisdom is “never make a major decision in the month of February.” The theory is that proper perspective will only return once March arrives.

Last year, I rightly identified (even in the moment) a sudden urge to buy a boat as a “February idea.”

Leap day google doodle

So why make the month one day longer, even if it only happens every four years?

In 1978, humorist Art Buchwald suggested that Congress should eliminate February altogether—though he questioned whether Congress would even consider the concept, since they take such a long February recess. Closer to home, my mother (who has a birthday during the month) vigorously opposed the thought. At the time, I thought it was a great idea.

Of course the whole premise of Buchwald’s argument was to somehow make spring come along a month sooner, which probably isn’t going to happen no matter what the groundhog doesn’t see or what the four weeks between January and March are actually called.

This year, I embraced February 29. The benign weather definitely helped; I ran my lunchtime errands on foot instead of by car, feeling like I had enough extra time that I could make it a treat instead of a chore. I remembered to send my one leap-friend a birthday note. And still there was plenty of time for writing, and music, and sleep.

In my teens and twenties, time crept by and winter seemed to last forever. These days, I’m wondering how to slow it all down—so an extra day in any month seems like a gift. Even one that extends the much-maligned month of February.