Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter’s pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year’s ill,
And prayer to purify the new year’s will. – Helen Hunt Jackson, “February”
Though in some climes spring may indeed start to appear soon after this day, it is almost never true in the center of North America; here February is often the coldest part of the winter, and where I live it’s often our snowiest month. So it matters little what any groundhog or other sacred animal supposedly predicts; here, there are still six weeks left of winter, even if it’s a mild one. I’m a little shy of predicting one way or the other this year; though I have a much better record than the famous Pennsylvania rodent (about 70% accuracy to his 39%), I was wrong last year and this winter’s weather has been so weird I’m not sure what to think. Ah, well, que sera, sera; it’s not like we make long-term plans based on such predictions anyhow. Since I’m not a farmer, early spring has no particular charm for me; though it is my second-favorite season after autumn, I’m content to let it come when it comes (unlike autumn, which I’m always happy to see arrive early). In these parts, winter is trickier than summer; though summer rarely makes a surprise reappearance after autumn has arrived, winter barges back in during early spring so often that I have come to expect it. And though I like winter better than summer, there is nothing I dislike more than a rude and unwelcome cold snap in April, just in time to kill the new flowers. Better for the spring to gather her strength and wait to make her debut when she’s good and ready, than to rush things and leave herself vulnerable to winter’s inability to make a punctual exit.
A happy Candlemas to you, dear readers, and Blessed Be!