Friday, February 7, 2014

Deep Winter


            We find ourselves ensconced now in the heart of winter this early February day, buried yet again under heaps of snow. Close to ten inches this time—not the mounds of snow dumped during a blizzard, of course, but a pounding nonetheless from storm after storm after storm in recent weeks, many mere days apart.
            We are by now so weary of snow that we have stopped shoveling one-or-two-inch accumulations, resigned instead to trudge through the drifts and hope that  the sun will melt the driveway before the next storm. But the heavier snowfalls we can't ignore. So we reach for our parkas and scarves, don our earmuffs, hats, and gloves, step into our wellies, crank up the snow blower, then set forth yet again to battle the storm.
            This is deep winter in the northeast, with six more weeks till spring. Yet, despite our Florida relatives’ playful facebook taunts to “come on down,” there's hope on the horizon here in the lower Hudson Valley. A friend has reported the first sighting of a robin.
            I’m reminded too, that February 1st was St. Brigid’s Day in Ireland. On that day, the ancient Celtic feast of Imbolc, the mid-way point between the winter and spring equinoxes was observed. Brigid was originally a Celtic fire goddess associated with the coming of light amid the long days of darkness. St. Brigid’s Day observances in Ireland today are rooted in that pagan festival and still identified with the welcome approach of spring.
            Here now, amid the menace of Nor’easters in the deep of a New York winter, the days are growing noticeably longer as we nudge our way toward spring. Just a few days ago my wife remarked how light out it still was at 4:45 p.m. And yesterday the sun didn’t set until about 5:15. Having cleared the driveway of snow and dug out the mailbox, I sit beside the fire, staring at the flames. I think of Brigid and wait for the spring.