We have snowdrops! They are a little early, but we shouldn’t complain – they’re only trying to be prompt. They actually aren’t due until Candlemas on February 2nd.
As there are none of the original Celts around at present, and as the current trend is towards alternative truths, it is hard to know what to believe. It would seem, though, that it all goes back the Brighid, a Celtic Goddess. Fire was one of Her responsibilities, so the arrival of snowdrops – looking like small candles – was presumed to be a sign that now would be a good time to light a candle and scare all the hob-goblins of Winter away. Cunningly, Spring was waiting in the wings, so this ritual stood a good chance of working.
Of course, if we were going to scare all sorts of nasty boogie-men away it would be good if we all got together – just in case (there being safety in numbers and all that). If we’re going to have a get together, well – we might as well have a party, mightn’t we?
The early Christians certainly didn’t want to miss out on a good party so they imported Brighid – lock, stock and candles – into Christianity as Saint Bridget and Candlemas.
If you want older than Celtic, then there’s always the candles that Demeter used to search the Underworld – looking for her daughter Persephone (who brought the Spring with her when she came back up to Earth). The Ancient Greeks had a word for it.
So much choice for such a small unassuming flower.
‘I rather like this time of year. Don’t you?
‘It’s a time for just floating along, relaxing; a time for taking stock of the year behind us.
‘Relishing last year’s little successes, and finding suitably soothing excuses for the times when we found ourselves, shall we say, not performing at our most optimum. Hopefully,if we were unlucky enough to have the latter, they will, by now, be starting to show their warm, fuzzy, rose-tinted edges.
‘Spring is on its way, you know – and then we’ll be off on another giddy roundabout. Mate, eggs, chicks. For goodness sake, the very thought of it is enough to make you moult your tail feathers.
‘No need to get all flustered yet, though. We still have a few more weeks of this nice peace and quiet. Plenty of time to float gently by, while the world picks itself up, dusts itself off, and takes a few deep breaths.
‘You could use this time to plan campaigns for the coming year, I suppose. But why? The coming year will arrive soon enough of its own accord, bringing with it all its flamboyant furore.
‘Personally, I find it best to use this time of year for quiet reflection.’
Was it Autumn once?
Did gold leaves flutter
down and lie?
Kaleidoscopes whirl as winds gust by?
Was it Summer once?
Did green leaves flutter,
while sun and rain
nourished hedgerow-flower and field of grain?
Was it Spring once?
Did daffodils flutter,
their dance to learn?
I remember. Never fear – Spring will return.
There’s quite a bit of symbolism in today’s picture. Because we’ve just marched fearlessly into a brand new year, naturally, we expect it to be bigger and better than last year – we’re like that, aren’t we?
So, here we are, a week into the uncharted territory of 2017 and what? Well, so far – for me anyway, it turns out that this side of the border is pretty much like the countryside we know so well – back there in 2016.
Back to the symbolism. The Robin may look like a refugee from a used Christmas card, but he is a survivor. For him/her the year ahead is always one massive challenge. Starting now he/she must establish control over a large enough area to attract a mate, build a nest, lay eggs, raise chicks and never for one moment relax his/her vigilance. He/She has started singing already – he/she is pretty upbeat about the whole thing.
The gorse bush has produced a few flowers. Edward Bach believed that gorse could help people who believed they were beyond help. OK we’re only a few days into the year – so it may be a bit too soon to feel beyond help.
But, here we are – a Robin and Gorse – it’s going to be a struggle, but we have to believe that it’s all going to be worth it.
Perhaps we should start singing, too?