The Sassy Sandpiper: Half-past Winter
By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter
Can you feel the hope, the quickening?
A few days ago, Feb. 2 to be precise, our planet swept through the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. This cross-quarter day is known as Imbolc (“i-MOLG”), Candlemas and Ground Hog Day. With all due respect to Christian rites and less respect to the “tradition” of disturbing a drowsy marmot for a prediction of the nearness of spring (eagerly awaited by those simultaneously debunking scientific evidence of climate change), I prefer ancient, earth-centered wisdom.
Here in the Tampa Bay area, we might not notice “the quickening of the year” as days lengthen, temperatures warm, and birds sing a bit more loudly, their plumage brightening for mating season. It is all about hope, you see, the return of the light after winter’s darkness, the transformation of dreams to the tangible, and yes—the birthing of lambs. Imbolc actually refers to ewes’ nourishing milk.
How to feel that hope, that quickening?
One way I know for sure: Plant a seed. Anything. One little seed in one little pot. Indoors or out. Only two other elements are required (three, adding patience): sunlight and water. If it is a good seed, a strong seed—not rendered dysfunctional by too much genetic tampering or pesticides—it will burst forth. What courage! A rootlet tunnels for water; a slender sprout seeks the light. This quest began some 360 million years ago; our very existence depends upon it.
Another way to feel the advent of spring is to unplug from the “world,” that place of alternative facts, clashing world views, egomaniacal every-bodies, technology, road rage, meetings, deadlines, rollercoaster stock markets—you know, 21st century life. Even if you can only spare two minutes of your lunch break, turn off your phone and go outside. Find something real like a leaf or a rock or a feather and just look at it. A chunk of concrete doesn’t count, nor does a discarded Pepsi can. Look for something no human hand could make, and you’ve got the idea. Or look up. Sun, moon, stars. They are always there, reminders of life in its unadulterated state. We need that kind of order and simplicity.
To accompany your search, here is a blessing from author and poet Doreen Valiente: “Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.” Earth Prayers from Around the World
Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Ground Hog Day | Candlemas | Imbolc | TB Reporter
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