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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Mysteries

It’s officially spring, but we still have snow on the ground here.  All the same, signs of spring abound if you look!  There are buds on the trees, the chives have sprouted, and several song birds have returned.

Having only lived in this house since the late summer, this is our first spring here.  The process of moving in delayed us from getting acquainted with the local nature spirits as thoroughly as I would have liked.  I’m excited to work more at that this year.

I already started over the weekend.  My daughter and I walked around the backyard to look for signs of spring.  The snow is melting, so we could explore some of the plants.  I was intrigued to discover that what I thought were bushes last year are actually sprouting tree stumps!  My husband and I have been talking about planting trees in the back. There’s one large oak tree on the other side of the fence separating us from the cemetery, but we want more shade and privacy. Turns out, we already had some trees!  I’ll be interested to see the leaves after they appear.  For now, these are little mysteries. I’ve been reading about how to care for them so they grow as strong as possible.  I wonder why they were cut down in the first place?

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Pea Blossom. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

It’s amazing – and downright magical – how life emerges from a tiny seed and produces such beauty. After several weeks of waiting and tending, my peas have produced these beautiful blossoms. Indeed, many of the plants in my garden are showing signs of growth. Can you believe that we had snow on the ground just a couple months ago? Soon, we’ll celebrate the Summer Solstice…

I love how I get to experience a variety of seasons where I live. I appreciate each of them for different reasons. After week after grueling week of frigid temperatures, it all seems worth it now that I get to see the rebirth and growth all around. Soon, things will heat up. Sweat will roll down my back, and I’ll welcome the changing leaves and icy breeze that Autumn brings.

Turn, wheel, turn… I rejoice and join you in the dance!

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Gathered the last of the tomatoes, and one lone cucumber.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I love autumn. The weather is exactly how I like it, the changing leaves are so inspiring, and the mosquitos and poison ivy are less of a concern when I take nature walks. I also really enjoy winter. Sweaters, hot cocoa, cooking hot dinners that warm the whole house up … Yet as An Cailleach makes herself known a little more each morning and evening, I do feel a bit of sadness about my garden.

I think it was more of a success this year than last, in part because I wasn’t healing from a large slice in the abdomen. However, a newly mobile toddler didn’t exactly make gardening any easier… I did what I could, though, and got a lot of joy out of sharing it with my daughter.

The most successful parts of my garden this year were the tomatoes, although they came into their own later due to my late planting. I also had a great potato harvest and did more wild harvesting around my home. The scarlet runner beans did well, and were certainly pretty, but they’re very tough beans. Next year, I’ll probably go with something that I can enjoy eating raw rather than something as pretty. I would also like to plan better so that I can extend the life of my garden into the autumn. I may still try to plant garlic in preparation for the spring…

Although I’ll miss my garden, autumn in Northern NY reminds us that everyone needs a rest. The soil and the perennials will soon cover up with a snowy blanket.  When I transplanted my bulbs, I thought about how they symbolize the spring and all the new life that is possible because of that sleep.  While the beginning of winter is often a stressful flurry of activity, what follows the winter holidays is a long season in which many of us will become restless.  As I prepare my garden for its hibernation, I’ve been thinking about how I need to make my own time to relax this season.  Yes, some of that rest will include dreaming and planning for the green half of the year, but as long as I’m doing it leisurely with a cup of hot tea, I’ll be doing my mind, body, and spirit a favor.

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Offerings given. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Off to the forest with offerings tucked in my coat pocket, I trudged through the snow. Though much of it has melted, certain areas, especially the places between human dwellings and the forest, are still very deep. Movement was slow and difficult without snowshoes. As always, I thought of my spirit animal, the white tailed deer, as I clumsily made my way. They are so graceful and surefooted in the snow. Were a pack of coydogs to chase me, I would have a difficult time getting away in such conditions. And yet even thinking of deer surviving in the winter gave me strength and renewed my perseverance.

As I crossed the hedge, I noticed how the going became easier. The snow was melting faster in the forest. Why was that? Was it because the canopy of evergreens kept so much from piling up so there’s just less there?

Chickadees sang happily. I made my way to the shrine, passing some deflated birthday balloons that had blown in from somewhere. I made a mental note to grab them on my way back. As I stepped up a hill towards the shrine, I noted the familiar shapes of deer a few yards away. I stopped and looked around. When you slow down and really look  it is amazing what you can see.  A whole herd seemed to materialize out of the trees.  Some stared back at me, some struck their hooves against the ground, others continued to eat.  I proceeded slowly, not wanting to frighten them.  This herd and I continue to meet.  Do they recognize my coat, my tread, my scent?

I held an apple out to them.  I did not expect them to come and take it from me, nor do I want to encourage that.  I spoke softly, praising them, wishing them well, and telling them my intent.  I softly chanted “Fur and Feather”.  They ran a little to the other side of the forest.  They watched me a moment more, then vanished into the woods as they walked away.

I placed the offering upon the shrine, its stones bare of snow.  I thought of the deer, admiring their qualities.  They are all at once gentle, courageous, persevering, nurturing, cautious, and the females are very tribal seeming.  They are good qualities to admire and emulate.

I left more offerings of seed and herbs for the local spirits.  I took in the stillness and the life all around.  The melting snow… The red buds forming on branches… Spring is coming and potential is in the air!  I left the forest feeling light hearted and festive.  Funny how I even had balloons in my hand…

Snow melting around the roots of a big hemlock. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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As I type this, it’s 54° F outside.  It’s beautiful and feels amazing!  The frogs in the nearby marsh are awake and singing their little hearts out!  I was just puttering about my patio in a maternity t-shirt, emptying old pots of soil into bigger containers.  My plan is to bring a tarp to the patio and dump all the soil together, amend it with my compost, and some new soil from the local gardening center.  Hubby will help of course!  I have several large pots to drag out of the garage after all…  I’m just so excited for the new season!

A couple sad things to report.  The garlic I planted before the first frost was not successful.  I couldn’t find any growth and, when I dug deeper, only located one of the cloves.  It was slimy and rotted.  A bug was enjoying it.  I’m not sure what I did wrong but I plan to do more research and try again.  The beans we started indoors are not doing well.  They don’t appear to be germinating and, instead, are producing a mold.  The other seeds are fine, thank goodness, and are showing growth.  There’s no mold on them, so I’m not convinced it’s too much moisture and not enough circulation.  The beans are older seeds (I never wrote the date on the packet so I don’t really know how old) but I assume that has something to do with it.  It’s a real shame that I’ll have to go out and buy more seeds, but thankfully they aren’t expensive.  C’est la vie!  They were bush beans and, while they do well in containers, I would like to get a pole variety.  I had luck with pole peas last year in a container, so I know it’s very possible!

After clearing away some old growth, I found my chives and woad doing well.  This will be that woad plant’s last year.  I hope it produces flowers so that I can collect seeds for next year!  The cranesbill geranium is also showing growth and the lily of the valley I planted last year might be growing.  Fingers crossed!

There’s not a whole lot to photograph at the moment.  Things are just starting to grow, and I’m still in the process of cleaning the area up.  I put a few of my decorations out – a little welcome sign and a couple fairies.  My goal is to add a fairy garden this year so expect some fun updates on that!

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The first robins I’ve seen all year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

When I woke up this morning, I felt the forest calling.  As if to emphasize it, a crow cawed as I shared my feelings about it on Twitter.

Now that the wind isn’t so biting and the ground not so slippery, I could no longer ignore the calling to get back into the forest.  I’ve had to be careful with my walks.  There aren’t any established trails in the woods near my apartment, so falling is a real possibility, especially when the ground is covered in snow, ice, or mud.  Today felt like a great day to get back.  The bigger I get, the harder it is to waddle up and and down the slight inclines and over the puddles.  I’ll be in my third trimester in a week, so I want to get into the woods as much as I can while I’m able.

The snow on the ground is mostly gone.  There are a few clumps here and there, but the brown grass, and the tender new grass, is all exposed – much to the delight of the deer and newly returned robins!  Although there are moist places, the ground felt sturdy today.  I crossed over a small ditch and into the forest.  The air was fresh and cool.  The clouds shifted and sun beams flooded the forest.  Filtering through the evergreen trees and settling on the leaf carpet, the forest took on that warm, golden glow I so love.  As I walked to the Nature Spirits’ shrine, I spied a chipmunk, awake from its hibernation, darting over a log.

Once I made it to the shrine, I poured and placed offerings to the local spirits, thanking them for their blessings.  A crow cawed from above, seeming to approve.  I left and made my way back, picking up some litter as I went.  I always feel that extra bit of effort is an offering in and of itself.

Spring is slow to come in the North Country, but it’s slowing emerging.  There were more buds on the trees, I’m seeing robins, and I’ve even seen some spring flowers starting to poke out of the ground!  It’s coming, folks!

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“Imbolc Crepe” photographed by Weretaod 2012

Although I was feeling too ill for serious ritual and meditation on the first of February, the calendrical beginning of Imbolc for many Pagans, I was feeling a little more ambitious on the second, what I consider to be the day my personal observations wind down.  I was still congested and groggy, but I wanted to make a special meal and a Francophone friend inspired me when she posted “Today is La Chandeleur, crepe day!” on Facebook.  La Chandeleur  is basically French for “Candlemas.”  For those new to the holiday, it celebrates Mary’s purification and the presentation of Jesus at temple.  I have vague memories of occasional Candlemas observances when I went to church – people brought candles to receive God’s blessing for the year.  It is actually very similar to what many Pagans do for Imbolc and the probable pre-Christian connection is hard to dismiss.

So what does this have to do with crepes?

Well, someone questioned my friend about le jour des crêpes and she explained that the crepes represent the sun.  What a beautiful cultural tradition on what many preindustrial European cultures considered a threshold to spring!  I did a quick search to find more information and found it on the French wikipedia entry as well as this in English. Along with the solar attributes, there are various fortune-telling activities that go along with crepes!  Très fascinant!  Then when you consider that France used to be Gaul…  Oh, it just makes the imagination go wild!

Anyway, being a Druid, former Catholic, and French student, I decided that making crepes would be a perfect way to end my Imbolc celebration (I love familiarizing myself with the cultural practices of my ancestors).  I used a basic crepe recipe but substituted the milk with almond milk and the butter with vegan margarine*.  Funnily enough, I made whipped cream using dairy products!  I prepared some fruit from the freezer but also sautéed mushrooms, greens, and onions.  That way we had dinner and dessert crepes!  They turned out amazing and were a big hit.  Definitely a good (and filling) Imbolc tradition!

Bon appétit!

*I do consume dairy, just sparingly hence the presence of these items in my fridge.  My husband prefers when I use real milk in my baking since he claims he notices a difference in taste, but we were out of his milk.  I mentioned the difference here in case any vegan friends wanted to try.  I did, however, use eggs.  I’m not sure how crepes would turn out using a substitute like flaxseed but let me know if you try it!  The almond milk worked out great!

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