It must feel like spring today in Egypt--the exhilarating, inspiring, take a deep breath and sing, shout, and dance kind of spring. At the edge of the unknown, the future opening to just what new reality no one knows.
I had already planned to blog today about spring--the hopes and longings for spring that lots of us northerners find welling up in us on these cold but sunny days, the driveway crusted over with ice, the mailbox, broken off by the plow's forceful heave of too much snow, now askew but tied onto its post with some old clothesline and my best knot know-how. The snow piles so high it's easy to imagine they will be here into May. How will the crocuses and daffodils find their way through to bloom?
But I didn't want to blog only about hopes and longings but also about the small but real, tangible signs that spring is working its way already. Last week we marked that odd day knows as Groundhog Day (and the famed mammal did NOT see his shadow), an adaptation of the day elsewhere and otherwise known as Candlemas (also the Purification of the Virgin Mary, and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple), St. Bridget's Day, and Imbolc--the latter being most likely the first of them all in time, and the other names later adaptations and reinterpretations.
Imbolc was a traditional feast day in pagan, pre-Christian Ireland (and perhaps is still in pagan and now- Christian/post-Christian Ireland?)--the day that falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. In pre-Christian days it came to be associated with the goddess Brigid, goddess of poetry and healing, who in time became the Christian St. Bridget. (I know, it's complicated. And it doesn't really matter if you follow me or not! I actually just read that Brigid was said to have had two sisters, also named Brigid, so that she was a "triple goddess"--imagine that! A holy trinity of Brigid, Brigid, and Brigid!)
Imbolc, on Feb. 1-2, is considered the first day of spring in Ireland. Imbolc means something like "in the womb"--because at this time of year the lambs are growing fat in the wombs of ewes, nearing birth. I like that way of counting spring's beginnings even when the fuller expression of the season still lies weeks away, buried and hidden under snow.
And so it is, even in chilly Maine!
Just a few days ago a local Maine sheep and fiber farm posted a photo of a newborn lamb on Facebook! (Open this link to Romney Ridge Farm only if you want a dose of serious lamb cuteness to brighten your winter spirits!)
Over the past ten days, we've actually passed numerous significant milestones on the way toward spring. First, on January 31 the sunrise broke 7 a.m. and is now rising at 6:46 and getting earlier every day. Next came the day when our total gain of daylight since the winter solstice passed the one hour mark. And soon after, the sunset has passed 5 p.m. and counting.
I assume it's this growth in daylight that has set the birds to singing! I've been hearing titmice and chickadees not just making noises but singing their trademark songs. Could it be they are warming up for wooing and courtship?
It cheers my soul. So here's to Egypt, to the spring of freedom (though the road ahead may be bumpy), and to the spring of spring.