In December 2014 I moved my daughters and I from our little house in Cumbria to start a new life in county Durham. In the melee of the move, I barely had time to notice Christmas or Winter, nor did I really start to put my feet on terra firma until the first shooting bulbs appearing at the end of January. Each day on our walk to school, we would go past a raised garden that is meticulously cared for. Under a naked copper beech we saw the first shoots of snowdrops appearing, to our wonder and glee. As the days rolled on, we actively went to see what had opened, what was growing in the cleaned and virgin soil. By St Brighid’s day, or Imbolc on 2nd February, snowdrops were well and truly flowering, starting to open their petals, drooping downwards so that only the earthworms could see their delicate inner colours.
It was a time for unsettled feelings in the girls. They really didn’t know what was happening and I have no doubt they felt the newness and adventure that I felt. Change is often not an easy thing to feel, especially when days are filled with new teachers, new friends, new lives. But that garden and the simple yet magical act of noticing its daily newness, was just what we all needed. Perhaps if we could look deeper into how this time of year marks the pivot between Winter and Spring, we would have seen that we were looking for any sign of hope for new warmth in our new home. That garden gave it to us, and continues to give wonder as the year turns.
Imbolc is one of my favourite times of year: it’s a congratulatory time of year. We made it! We’re out the other side and we can really see the sun returning now. Evenings actually glow a little bit, and the morning walking of the dog is not longer in the pitch black. Although, the deep magic before dawn is one of my favourite times of day. Not a human soul is about (except the knowing few), but the owl still hoots, the deer still forage under the comforting cover of the night. The dog and I are where we are not really meant to be, and that feeling is possibly the best way to start the day.
Perhaps these liminal times hold the greatest magic for me. The beginnings of Spring, even if the weather still won’t agree, and the darkness before the dawn. They are times to really look and notice just how wonderful it all can be.