Are we turning the corner on winter? Are we on the verge of another glorious New Mexico spring? Will it be snowing cottonwood blossoms already? These questions and more were put to the groundhog in Pennsylvania last Saturday, and guess what? It’s a groundhog.

A groundhog is a badger. And to paraphrase Alfonso Bedoya in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers.”

We do just fine, thank you, with our unpredictable Southwestern weather. The wifey and I were sitting on the back porch on a particularly sunny morning earlier this week and talking about how January is always the toughest month. Now that we’ve waved it bye-bye we can get on with February when things start waking up. It’s like the year is refreshing itself.

As she put it, “We’re Febbin’ it big time.”

Speaking of big time, this Saturday is the Community Arts Party at Finley gym, when kids can release their creative juices and do art. Picasso once said every child is an artist, but here’s a secret: the arts party is for everybody. Which leads me to think maybe everyone - somewhere deep down, beneath their reasoning and logic and problem-solving, is an artist. In one form or another. 

And you don’t have to wear a beret, have the handle of a brush clenched between your teeth or hobnob at fancy parties discussing the pros and cons of Proust or Frank Lloyd Wright.

What I mean is, art and creativity is personal stuff. I mean, people secretly write poetry to express a feeling; tell funny stories to make people laugh, impulsively doodle while on the phone, make a lamp with wood, take a snapshot of a sunset, do needlepoint or crochet something; make up a song, invent a new recipe; when you get down to it, there is a uniquely human urge to create something. Everyone, I suspect, has at least one friend who does something artistic. And more times than not that person does it for the sheer pleasure of creating something that didn't exist before. It’s like Emerson said...“every artist was first an amateur.”

You can see it as beautiful and moving, or thought-provoking and inspirational – it's all a matter of taste - but art is all around us here. Besides the numerous galleries, as well as pictures you see hanging in various places, the beautification committee is busy working to enhance the look of the town with cool murals.

Full disclosure: Art was all around me growing up. Two of my sisters were artists, my younger brother and sister were both in the high school band and my older brother played bongos. Me? I was usually hanging out in the Dairy Queen parking lot sitting on a car hood talking about cars, girls, and baseball. Three things I never was good at.

But I digress.

Aside from the groundhog’s dubious weather prognostication, I was reading about some equally dubious innovations forecasted for the coming year. For instance, how about toilets that flush when told? Or showers that specify temperature and timed out to conserve water? Glass garage doors? For the aforementioned artists: paintings made with bioluminescent bacteria that glow for two weeks (after that, who knows what might ooze out of the picture frame?).

But wait, there’s more. You might want to fall asleep watching a DVD of sheep grazing in a field, or a movie of laundry being washed.

Keep these in mind, because “V” Day cometh and you never know what your Valentine may like. I’ve seen ads broken down into Valentine gifts for “him” and “her.” For him, there’s everything from a pool table shaped like a 1965 Shelby Mustang for $12,000 to a BBQ apron that says Mr. Good Lookin’ Is Cookin’ for 20 bucks. Also, a football that costs $119 because it’s got the logo of Super Bowl LIII etched into it.

As for her - and this one is tough - there’s the typical perfume, jewelry, dozen red roses, and anything chocolate, but funny thing, no pool table or super bowl football is on that list. Much less a voice-activated flush toilet. To be on the safe side, I say forget the his-and-hers thing and just go with what you want to give ‘em.

The whole Valentine’s Day thing goes back centuries but really took off after 1847 with the introduction by Esther Howland of Valentine’s Day greeting cards.

When it comes to practicality, however, there is the 1819 Old Farmers Almanac’s advice for married men: “Now is your time to see that your women shall not complain for wood in the summer. Let your wood-house be well-filled, that they need not be obliged to blow out their brains over brush, old punk and cow dung.”

That would be true love.