Halfway between Christmas and the first day of Spring, we have Imbolc. People start noticing that days have gotten longer. The days have been getting longer for six weeks already, but now it is obvious. You walk out of work and it is not dark. You see the sun rise on the way to school.
Christians call this Candlemas, time to bless votive candles before Lent. The Christ child and His mother Mary had passed the period of rest and isolation that traditionally followed childbirth. Time to change modes.
Pagans anticipate the world awakening. We see snowdrops and maybe crocus, and delicate looking greens like chickweed peek out of frosted ground. Maybe some burrowing critters peek out, too. Yes, Groundhog Day. Not really about the weather, it is about anticipation. Spring is coming and people like me – dirty, optimistic gardeners – lose our minds.
At this time, no candy or card company has figured out how to sell Groundhog related wares. Florists ramp up for Valentine’s day, Cadbury is already pushing eggs. But my mailbox is stuffed with seed catalogs, and optimism peaks.
THIS is the year I will finish my landscaping. THIS year I will plan my garden and follow the plan religiously. THIS year I will conquer weeds. THIS year I will try all those adorable backyard decor ideas I have saved on Pinterest. Maybe I will build that greenhouse I have always wanted. There are no grubs, no aphids, no hornworms, no mites, no squash bugs, no moles because it is still winter.
Sacred fires celebrate the lengthening days and anticipation of Spring inspires poetry. Cabin fevered Irish told long tales, staring into Saint Bridget’s flames.
My air registers inspire few poems, but I have colour-coded sketches of plantings and notes on companion plants. Brightly illustrated seed packets peek out of grubby file folders and tattered bags, and daffodil shoots make me manic.
From now until April, every cold front will break my heart. Warm spells will delude me into early planting and I will lose innumerable seedlings before final frost.
Happy Imbolc, and may Bridget inspire you.