This year - more than most - I find myself taking great interest in the start of Spring. For me, it's partly down to the 'Winter Blessings and Beauties' project, where over the course of three months I challenged myself to write a daily post on the positive aspects of Winter. The practice left me more acutely aware of the passing of the seasons and their specific characteristics (as well as feeling more kindly towards Winter!). But occurring as it did in the teeth of a global pandemic, last Winter was uniquely strange and challenging for everyone and I'm sure I'm far from alone in being particularly eager for Spring 2021 to arrive.
The thing that is interesting me at the moment is - when does Spring actually arrive? By setting the duration of 'Winter Blessings and Beauties' from 1st November to 2nd February (the period between Samhain and Imbolc) I made a case for Spring beginning at Imbolc. In terms of imposing a structure for the seasons, I rather like the notion of Spring beginning at Imbolc, Summer at Beltane, Autumn at Lughnasadh and Winter at Samhain. But of course, none of the seasons begin or end neatly on a single date, however much we humans may like to declare that they do. As Wikipedia says, "There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs."
For example, 'meteorological spring' in the northern hemisphere runs from 1st March-30th May, but 'astronomical spring' runs from the spring equinox (around 20th March) to the summer solstice (around 21st June). In the southern hemisphere the dates would be 1st September-30th November (meteorological spring), or around 21st September-21st December (astronomical spring). The Gaelic Irish calendar counts the Spring season as February, March and April. In Sweden however, meteorologists don't define the onset of Spring as a fixed date, but instead count it as the first 7-day period during which average temperatures exceed 0°C. This of course means that Spring begins on different dates in different parts of the country - but I rather like this more nature-centred approach.
For practical, planning-ahead purposes I suppose we need to have agreed upon dates on which we can reasonably expect conditions to reflect the change in seasons. But I like the idea of also having far more subjective dates alongside this where we can observe and listen to what the land and the weather is telling us.
This year I settled on Imbolc as the date on which the Wheel of the Year clicked over from Winter to Spring. And although on that date there were indeed signs of the coming Spring - snowdrops, catkins, birds beginning to prepare for the breeding season - it didn't much feel like Spring, especially when we had yet more snow. Even by 1st March - when daffodils, crocuses, primroses and celandines had joined the snowdrops and nest-building season was well under way - it didn't feel like Spring to me. It's hard to put into words, but each year at some point I sense a rising tide of energy coming from the land, literally pulsing through the earth - and then I experience a bone-deep certainty that Yes, spring is here!
That bone-deep certainty came yesterday. An unpromising day of gales and ceaseless rain blurring the hills - and yet I could feel that irrepressible pulse of life so clearly and strongly. Suddenly - overnight it seems - green leaf buds are breaking on the rosebush outside the door, and the honeysuckle in the hedge.
Here in West Wales at least it seems the seasons have finally turned and Spring has arrived. Hail and Welcome, Spring!
|Fresh green chive shoots in the herb garden|