Winter gives me silent hope:
Touch the terminal buds on branches.
Clear the snow and find green moss below.
Watch the sunlight fade, then linger longer.
Stand with the strength of evergreen trees.
Listen to birds cheeping at the feeder.
-Joyce Ruff, The Circle of Life
Today is the halfway point between winter and spring. Often when reflecting on this day, I feel it more to be the beginning of spring as in our area of the country signs of spring are all around: birds are returning to the area, waking me with their morning song, plants are poking out of the ground left and right, and my goat will soon be birthing. The days are getting noticeably longer, we are halfway between the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) and the midway point (spring equinox). The ancients celebrated this day as Brigit’s day, who was known as many people including Brigit the Healer, a woman who taught the properties of healing herbs. In modern times this day is also known as Candlemas and Groundhog’s Day, the day of light and hope for spring. It is traditional to eat dinner by candlelight and in honor of the sheep (and goats) who are in milk, milk laden foods are served. We wait with baited breath to see if Phil will see his shadow and go back into his underground home to wait out another 6 weeks of winter.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, this is a day to celebrate the steady return of light! Spring is almost here! Celebrate today by taking a walk outside with your children and playing “I Spy” to see how many plants you can spy coming out of the ground. If it is snowy in your region and not a sign of spring is to be found, create a little of your own by planting some seeds indoors or forcing some bulbs. My favorite plants for this time of year are white tulips or cyclamens. Their white reminds me of the light, something we crave here in midst of winter when most days are gloomy and the sun shine seems optional to the sky. To complete your day, burn some sweet smelling beeswax candles for dinner, to remind you of the bees who will soon begin pollinating our plants when they burst from the ground and bloom. Make a custard or pudding for dessert or serve some creamed potatoes for dinner (creamy potato soup with dried herbs is a hit for these gloomy, cold evenings) while you relish the thought of the return of spring.
February also brings us a time of love. Often through the day to day shuffle of life, our gratitude for those closest to us gets pushed aside. February is a time to offer acts of love, kindness and gratitude towards those we love and may not remember to show appreciation for. Try to take time this month to show your gratitude for little things your partner, children and friends do for you. Even just a few words spoken can go a long way. When my older children attended public school, I used to send little notes in their daily lunches letting them know how great they were or how much I loved them. My daughter, now grown, fondly remembers the notes even when she hardly mentioned them growing up. Thank your partner for the mundane things such as washing the dishes, folding the laundry or putting the kids to bed. It’s so easy to take these things for granted but making a conscious effort to acknowledge them makes not only the recipient of the gratitude happy, you’ll find it makes yourself happy too! And most of all, don’t forget to tell everyone in your life how much you love them. We all need a lot of love right now, especially during the final days of winter when the cold and gloom seem to drag on forever.
It doesn’t hurt to be a bit silly in expressing your love either! That’s why I get such a kick out of creating the annual herbal valentines! It’s my way of showing my love to all of you, my dear readers. Be sure to download this year’s version and if you’d like, the past two years as well.
Do you have any rituals for this time of year? How do you show your gratitude for those in your life? Will you be planting a garden this year? If so have you begun planning it and will you be starting anything from seed? Share in comments, we’d love to hear from you!