Friday, February 02, 2007


Imbolc, also known as Candlemas and Groundhog's Day, has it's roots in Celtic tradition. It is a holiday that celebrates not the return of spring, but the stirrings of it. At some point in the long winter, it's hard to remember that the wheel will ever turn, to believe that spring will ever return. Imbolc, to me, is a calendar reminder to check for signs that it will.

So yesterday, armed with a camera, I went out into my yard and for the very first time, I looked for some sort of proof that the seasons are rolling forward. I was surprised at how much I discovered. I had already noticed, taking Rosie out to pee in the dead of night, that the chill in the air lately wasn't quite so bone cracking. The ground, although still mostly frozen, felt a bit softer when I walked over the still dry and colorless lawn. But yesterday, in the shelter of the house, under bushes, beneath last year's mulch of autumn leaves, I found hidden the green of new life.

This winter has been so dry here, the wee growth looked somewhat desperate and struggling, but still arriving despite the difficulty. In a spot where in other, wetter springs patches of violets have sprung up, a few patchy leaves and one lone blossom is blooming. Early bulb shoots are poking up - grape hyacinth and this prolific one with white blossoms that I can never remember the name of. The trees and bushes have tight round buds clinging to every branch. One lone snowdrop that I pictured above.

Today I went back outside and searched more thoroughly. A few perennials are starting to show green centers beneath the leaf mulch, which we spread on thick this year because of the deep cold and lack of snow. Braving the open air are lambs ear, hollyhocks and strawberry plants! In the backyard, leeks are already trying to thicken and will need watering, tiny seedlings of cilantro and parsley are popping up in the oak garden tubs.

Yesterday I thought winter still held the earth in sleep, but now that I've looked for those tiny first changes, a breath of hope makes everything look different. I woke up today and picked out brown clothes. Not green? Nope. Brown, like the soil, where the seeds are stirring and the roots are awakening.

Don't forget to celebrate this small, overlooked holiday in some way. Take a minute or two to go outside and look for the small, overlooked changes in in your garden. Or maybe look inside for changes in yourself that have been hibernating, incubating over the dark winter months, and are ready to be discovered and nutured into bloom. Changes in the seasons, changes of any kind, don't usually come with a bang and a parade. Instead they appear quietly, in the smallest sheltered corners, unnoticed unless we remember to look for it.

Here's to a happy, hopeful Imbolc for each of us.


Blogger Jan said...

It was such a beautiful day here yesterday and during my walk I noticed a definite spring like feel in the air. It has been frozen and sunny, the dogs were able to walk on top of the creek but it was warm enough at 3pm that I didn't bother to wear a coat, just a hat, scarf and gloves. I saw the first stirrings of green coming up on the forest floor although I'm not sure what it was. Looked a bit like maple tree seedlings. My snowdrops in the yard are blooming and the green tops of the daffodils are popping up. Yep, I guess spring really will return once again.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Laura F. said...

It's like La Chandeleur! Just another way of celebrating it. I like your way, too.

7:16 PM  

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