Thursday, 2 February 2017

Thursday, or Thereabouts - February 2, 2017

Of Ground Hogs and Candles

It's Ground Hog Day in these parts today. And if you are tired of winter, Wiarton Willie had good news for you this morning. The Ontario rodent did not see his shadow which means according to the folklore, that winter is pretty much over.

Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam agreed. Their western siblings reportedly held the opposing view, as their dark shadows stretched out across the snow.

Though one of the favoured east-enders of the nation, I won't be putting away any of my "Nanook of the North" equipment. For the next two months my tuque, mitts, scarves, heavy boots, down jacket and shovel will remain in place by the door. Tonight's forecast of gusting winds and temperatures of -12°C (10°F), along with an extreme cold alert gives good reason for that.

Today is also Candlemas Day, a Christian festival of light. In some traditions, candles are blessed, then lit and processed through the church all in commemoration of the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple.

It's quite likely that the early church chose February 2 in order to counter the ancient Celtic feast of Imbolc. Back in old England and Ireland, the spring lambs were born around this date thus bringing back the flow of ewe's milk or "Imbolc" (other spellings: Imbolg, Oimelc, and Imelg).

The ancients celebrated with candles, lots and lots of candles, to welcome the return of the light to their days, to welcome the first signs of Spring in their flocks.

I prefer candles over ground hogs. They are so much easier to keep and quietly hold their dance until I bring flame to wick. They give warmth and comfort without fur balls or poop. They give light and cheer to heart and home. But once lit, candles demand our attention - left to their own devices, they can go wild.

Bitter winds, cold and snow are not over, but as sure as the sun, the moon and the tides, the light is returning. In the forty days since Christmas (yes, it has been that long), our days have lengthened by sixty-one minutes to 9 hours:57 minutes. By the end of this month, daylight hours will have stretched to a full 11 hours and 10 minutes.

It's time to peruse the garden shops...

and check out the seed selection.

It's time to plan for new growth.

It's time to craft the storyline of Spring's arrival.

So bring out the candles today. 
Tend them carefully.

Enjoy the flickering dance and breathe in the warmth. 
Celebrate light.

©2017 April Hoeller


  1. Yes, I guess here in the states winter remains. However, I have given up on the weather because one day it will be freezing cold, the next day it is pushing to 70. Good times. Candlemas. I do remember that. I also remember February 2nd as being St. Blaze's Day when we got our throats blessed. Surround yourself with light, April. Spring is on its way!

    1. Choosing to stay in the light is a particular challenge this February, but all the more reason to put in the effort. Just gotta keep the home fires burning.
      Take care. Be well. Be light.