The funny thing about a long winter is, just when you are settling in to the idea of it being long, and keeping the pile of scarves, boots and mittens stacked up by the door, and ensuring the hot chocolate stash never declines too much without re-stocking it, the weather does a strange twirl and winds blow warm air into The Valley and the snow disappears as though it were never covering every spot of earth.
I've grown fond of hibernation this year. I've found peace with bulky jackets and boots and extra blankets on the bed and using herb-infused oil on my winter-weary skin instead of lotion. More than once, I have happily sat down to read, and drifted off into daydreams instead. I've watched too much British television and taken too many naps (is there such a thing as too many naps?) And I have been rediscovering yoga and Pilates these last six weeks, which has been blissful (and painful.)
My spiritual practice has been slow and deliberate, and I'm now working with only two altars instead of five. Everything important is housed either at the large working space or in one smaller space that seems to have become the place for daily devotions. And the spirits have been chatty.
And so it only seems natural, that as I finally settle into the idea of an extra-long winter, the earth begins to stir and stretch and yawn. The temps skyrocketed this week from a biting cold to a warmth that had me peeling layers off while I was raking over the raised garden beds. I planted three kinds of lettuce and two varieties of peas. Poking around the flower and herb gardens I noted chives, chickweed, yarrow, lady's mantle, and the exasperating rhubarb all showing signs of new life.
And just like that, the waiting is over. Even if the frost lingers in the mornings or the rains are thick and snow-like, the tide has turned toward spring. There is no going back now. Today the sunrise and sunset are exactly one minute apart.* It is as close to a Vernal Equinox as we will get. According to the local report the sunset tomorrow will be three minutes later than today - three whole minutes more of light to revel in. Not too shabby after a long, dark winter.
To those who woke to snow this morning - you have my sympathy, and the hope that spring will find you soon as well. It won't be long now.
*And, by "one minute apart" I mean that sunrise was at 7:07am and sunset was at 7:06pm. Although a one-minute day would be something. Perhaps Mondays could be one-minute days?