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Spring Fever

Anticipating the equinox

Anticipating the equinox

I don’t want to sit inside and write.  It’s been unseasonably warm these past few days.  Sunny and up into the 50’s!   That may seem entirely reasonable, but typically we would expect another 3-8″ of snow in March not greening grasses.

Many of my friends are throwing open windows during the day just to air things out.   I’d like to do that as well, but then there’s that little allergy piece.  The warmer weather brings out all the mold.  I’m not miserable yet, but I can feel it in the air (and in my eyes and in my breathing.)

I’ve been out and about quite a bit in the past week, birthday dining.   I went to tea with a good friend.   My kids took me out to dinner.  There were seasonal rituals with much feasting (not really birthday related, but this one happens every year in competition with my birthday weekend so I’ve adopted it.)

Dinner with Karina and her boyfriend and Orion. They put candles on desert.

Dinner with Karina and her boyfriend and Orion. They put candles on desert.

I picked up some tulips at the grocery store to brighten my inside.  Since the kitchen is becoming more and more useless I need the “pick-me-up”.  I’m anxious to spend another day buried in seed catalogs and garden designs.

The spring thaw is an important lesson in balance.  It’s easy to pick up a cold when the allergies are threatening the immune system.  It’s easy to dress too warm, or not warm enough.  It’s easy to put off the things that need to be done and just sit in the sunshine.

A few spring flowers brighten up even the cloudy days

A few spring flowers brighten up even the cloudy days

It’s too early to be out planting the gardens yet.  Patience is part of the lesson here.  It’s probably fleeting.  Chances are very good we still have some freezing days ahead.  Theres an unsettled feeling.  A sense of growth, bursting forth that isn’t quite ready to happen.

The equinox is still a few weeks away, so spring isn’t officially here yet.  Even when it comes, experience tells me that it won’t necessarily feel like it.  Still the sun is shining, the days are longer and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy it while it’s here.

Hope

The thaw sometimes confuses the plants

The thaw sometimes confuses the plants

It is that time of year when it becomes really apparent that the days are getting longer, light is returning.  Groundhog’s day may be a big deal in some places, but here we are pretty well guaranteed another 6 weeks of winter.   Usually we see a “midwinter thaw” around this time of year.  With climate change it seems that thaw is coming earlier.  Much of our snow cover melted a few weeks ago with temps in the 40’s.  Now it’s cold again.

I’ve written blogs in previous years about the light and about seasonal celebrations.   I’ve written about our long winters and how easy it is to get cabin fever.  What I haven’t written much about, at least not here, is hope.

This is a time of year when hope is in short supply.  Historically, stores are starting to deplete and some household rationing sets in.  In the natural world food is scarce.  It is not uncommon to see herd die off in this late winter season, before the new shoots sprout.  Likewise, in a harsh year predators will struggle to find enough calories to continue to hunt.

Hens start laying again with the return of the light.  Some of us think of this as the dairy fat, fish and smoked meat sabbat.

Hens start laying again with the return of the light. Some of us think of this as the dairy fat, fish and smoked meat sabbat.

In the British Isles and in the Southern and Eastern United States this marks the time of year when there are signs that spring will come again.  Siberian squill, crocus, magnolia – the early bloomers are sprouting.   None of these first blossoms are food plants.  They are precursors.  Signs of hope.

In an interfaith analogy I liken our northern climate Imbolc to the story of the rainbow after the flood.   There was no land in sight, but there is a promise of hope in the light.  It is a time to prepare, a time to invite hope in.  The cleaning that goes along with this time of year is a little like Field of Dreams.   “If you clean it, spring will come.”

There is a metaphor that circulates in the Sufi and the Buddhist communities about hearts breaking open.  The notion is that it takes experiencing true heartbreak to be open to compassion, to shared human experience.  If you’ve never felt it, you are not fully human.  Those breaks, those scars, become the windows in your heart and soul that allow the light of the sacred to shine through you.    By allowing the pain, and not resisting, you also allow the opening.

Spring will come again

Spring will come again

The midwinter thaw is like that for me.  The days are so dark and so cold and everything is frozen into ice.  And then the ice breaks, and the light seeps in and the warmth can begin to reach the waters.  It is a moment.  The ice will come again, just like heartbreak will come again.  But it is also an opening to hope, that after the ice there will also be spring.

It’s a good time to have that reminder of hope in the world.

Happy Spring!

The only way I could see daffodils springing up out of the snow.

The only way I could see daffodils springing up out of the snow.

Last week was the vernal equinox, the official start of spring.  Dare I mention that we had snow flurries this morning?

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A friend dyed these for Orion and me.

A friend dyed these for Orion and me.

Dying eggs is a big deal this time of year.  Whether you dye them for Easter or Ostara or just because it’s fun I have to wonder if part of the reason for dying eggs is just to put some color into the landscape.

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Running water in Minnehaha Creek

Running water in Minnehaha Creek

In warmer climates there are native breeds of chickens that lay eggs of different colors.  If you think about the climates in places  like the Ukraine, famous for their egg dying techniques, winters are longer and springs can be pretty grey.

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Ice lace tunnel

Ice lace tunnel

There are signs that spring may indeed show up after this very hard winter.

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We have had quite a lot of melt (honest).  There was running water in the creek and I even saw a minnow swim by in the icy water.

Melting sheets of ice in the river give new meaning to "ice dams".

Melting sheets of ice in the river give new meaning to “ice dams”.

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This year we blessed our eggs for the strength to hold on through the thaw.  It may still be awhile, but it’s coming.

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