Valentine? Bah! Give me a car wash anytime!

There were no candy hearts, no presidential birthdays marked, but I celebrated my favorite February holiday on Wednesday.
I washed my car.
No, really.
It was the warmest day of the year by far, and on the way back from covering a press conference for Jim Farrell, the newest candidate to throw his name in the ring for Sullivan County district attorney, I had my windows wide open and the iPod was blasting through my speakers.
But I was still wary of getting anywhere near the outside of my car – its dirt-smeared doors and the mud-encrusted tailgate.
It’s an aversion I can’t say my daughter shares; she’s spent the past few weeks wiping the sleeves of her powder blue coat up against the fender as we skitter across the ice to load into the car in the morning. Her sleeves newly browned, she then turns to me, “Help, please!” spreading her arms toward my own blue coat while I shrink back in horror.
Pulling into Jeffersonville, I made a last minute decision. I turned next to Sal’s and headed for the car wash.
There were two cars ahead of me, but I switched off the ignition (yes, I try to be good to the environment) and settled in for the long haul.
One and a half stories of New York Magazine later, it was my turn.
I pulled every quarter I could find from my center console and got to work. The magnets – so brown I could barely tell they were there – were first to go, blowing off at the power of the soap and water shooting from the gun.
I rescued them and tried to spritz them off, shooting dirt all over my white sweater. It didn’t matter. It was worth it.
Because in the next two and half minutes or so, I obliterated every inch of road salt and sand from my car, top, side and bottom.
Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow be darned; I was blowing winter away with every speck.
It’s a sort of tradition for most of us here Sullivan County. One warm February day (if we’re lucky), we turn into the car wash lane and say bye bye to the salt and sand.
Sure it will come back.
We’re only kidding ourselves if we think this is the end to winter. The salt, the sand, they’re part of Sullivan County life in the winter the way the tourists are in the summer, and we’ve accepted them. But just as we have the pre-summer Memorial Day weekend hike in visitors, we have the pre-spring thaw, the little taste of no more winter.
Some of you celebrate February with cards, flowers and days off for presidents.
I’m too busy looking ahead.
Spring is almost here.

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