Monday, February 02, 2009

Half Way to Spring

Our front yard, February 1, 2009

If today be sunny and bright,
Winter again will show its might.
If today be cloudy and gray,
Winter soon will pass away.

My niece, Jaspenelle wrote a very interesting post yesterday about Oimelc (or Imbolc), a festival day in Celtic culture which marks the half way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Groundhog Day, which is today, likely has its origins in this Pagan tradition.

Christians do not attach spiritual significance to observances of nature, the seasons, or the movement of the sun and moon, but many Christian traditions, especially those to do with Christmas and Easter have pagan roots. Ancient people in northern climates anticipated seasonal changes as part of survival. February's full moon was called "the hunger moon" as man and animal faced dwindling supplies of hoarded food and had to work harder to find fresh food. It is not surprising that they would look for signs that would point to an early spring.

Yesterday was beautiful and sunny with temperatures near the freezing mark. It was a day for walking without hat or gloves, and even though the snow is very deep, the air felt like spring was possible. People were out in large numbers enjoying the day. I walked the trails with some friends and we saw a lot of bird and animal activity.

This morning is also clear and sunny. According to the proverb above that means "winter again will show its might". Living in Canada, we know there will be more snowstorms right into April. February is the month of winter festivals including Winterlude in Ottawa and the Quebec Winter Carnival or Carnaval de Qu├ębec.

Groundhog day news wire!! Just reported...

"Canada's foremost furry forecaster, Wiarton Willie, saw his shadow this morning as he emerged from his den. According to tradition, Willie's glimpsing of his shadow means there will be another six weeks of winter."

Oh well, we knew that would be the case whether he saw his shadow or not.


  1. Yes,we will have more winter,but each milder day is a blessing.Hope you get the computer problems resolved soon.

  2. Nice post. Unfortunately, the USA's Punxsutawney Phil also saw his shadow. Glad I don't believe in that sort of superstition.

  3. Halfway? Oh I hope so!!! No "hunger moon" for those finches and others you feed!

  4. Wiarton Willie? OH no, not another alliteratively named rodent.
    We have Punxsutawney Phil AND Octoraro Orkie here in PA.
    As for Christian and Celtic celebrations intertwining--the early church was very crafty in appropriating formerly pagan holidays. No doubt the church powers thought--well, if the people are going to celebrate anyway, may as well have it be connected to Christianity.

  5. Hi have taken some beautiful photographs.....I love to see your birds......

    I cannot imagine what it is like to have snow for such a long period......a few days and I have had enough.....but it does look beautiful.

    Spring will be here before we know it......

  6. I rather like the tease of the first false spring. Yet looks like it will be a while at your house. Getting the gift of sunshine does make it easier to get thru the second half of winter, the reminder of spring is universal.

  7. Interesting musing on the origin of grounhog day. Pretty pictures of the squirrel and birds.

  8. Ah yes, happy imbolc and the festival of the goddess Brighid. Mid-point of winter. Here with all the snow, we know winter will last (as you already pointed out). I like your pics of the birds. And I especially like your first pic of the sun against the tree in your front yard. It's hard to photograph the sun and have it turn out just right!
    Hope you get blogger sorted out.

  9. Ruth,

    It was a beautiful day yesterday (Sunday) for a hike along the river. Today was even milder and hubby and I were out and about doing errands. It did seem that there was a hint of spring in the air.

    I do hope we have a bit of a January thaw, even if it is February. The Grand has a lot of ice on it and is very high for this time of year. We need gradual melting or it will be well over its banks. We do not need severe flooding.

    Enjoyed your photos and visiting with you.


  10. Thank you for such a lovely post. Despite the fickleness of the weather the promise of spring is always just below the surface. I love the first photo.

  11. It was a lovely day. Joy of joys, it was still quite bright at 5:00 PM!

  12. What great photos on this halfway point. Love the celtic and pagan info..

  13. Can't wait for spring to arrive! 6 more weeks according to Mr Phil! That Redpoll photo . . . STUNNING!

  14. Our General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta did not see his shadow, so they say we will be into spring soon in this part of the country anyway. :c)

    Love your sweet Redpoll Ruth.

  15. Your front yard is amazingly beautiful this time of a year! Love the light!!!

  16. Awesome photos. Great place.

  17. Hi Ruth,
    I love that first picture of the red squirrel--amazing whiskers on that little critter!

    We're figuring at least 8 more weeks of winter--no matter the groundhog says!

  18. Ruth,

    I always enjoy your blog. Your writing and photos are beautiful!

  19. Thanks to all who stopped by and commented. Ruthie J has it right when she says, "We're figuring at least 8 more weeks of winter--no matter the groundhog says!"

  20. I love that cute red squirrel! Wonderful post. I find it strange that Christians don't celebrate the changing of seasons when God the creator is the one who made it so!

  21. Kathie- as a Christian, I enjoy everything about nature and the seasons and celebrate the beauty of creation every day. But the focus of our worship is the creator, not the creation.


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