To speak of spring when a heavy blanket of snow is still covering the ground might seem like wishful thinking but believe me, being Irish, since St.Brigid’s (1st February) I can literally feel it’s here. Raised by druids, Brigid’s name means “Fiery Arrow”. She was akin to the Roman goddess Minerva and concerned herself with fertility, prosperity, and poetry and was symbolized by a spear, crown, globe and a bowl of fire.
Around the feast of St. Brigid one can sense how nature slowly awakens and how life begins to stir under the earth, not yet visible but the feeling of things to come – a sense of foreboding, expectation and anticipation. What will this year bring – which seeds will find good earth and grow? Which of last summer’s flowers have left a secret in the soil, and taken root and which of those will find their way upwards and outwards? If they are going to blossom this year, they will already be feeling the force inside – and this is what we sense when we walk through the garden on a morning like this and feel like something is moving.
I took a snow shovel to the garden with me today as the path to the summer house is knee deep. Justbesidethe decking I planted three witch-hazels and these are the first plants to blossom every year and are thusthe first visible sign of spring. I had to check up and yes, there they were on a bush with no green, no leaves – just bare wood, the very first paper shreds of blossoms, rust red and carnival yellow… they’re back.
Although Valentine’s day is over it does also have a connection with the old belief that the beginning of spring corresponds with the return of the birds from their winter sojourn and their mating – this occurs around mid-February. One morning during a snow storm a couple of weeks ago I looked out to see hundreds of birds fly past the window in the direction of the wind, mingling with the heavy blowing snow… it felt like being in an aquarium the way they practically swam past the window at high speed. A white blur speckled with wings…
If you go out this morning don’t only listen to the sound of the first few brave birds that made it back from Africa but smell the air and you’ll know I’m right.
Silently, softly she steps in… but ever so forcefully, spring!
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