Tag Archives: Spring

Muddy boots and signs of spring

2 Mar

Things have been a little busy in real life so I hope to catch up on my blogging soon. Thankfully, we had some nice moments this week to slow down and cut through the mania with some mud and signs of spring.

We’re lucky that our local park has some great puddles to splash about in at the moment:

Boots in puddle

Nothings beats a bit of a splash about. I think my daughter will be glad to get walking so she can join in the fun instead of watching from the sling! Happy wellies are muddy wellies:

Muddy boots

We were on the hunt for signs of spring so were delighted to find some snow drops:

Snowdrops

These delicate little beauties are truly one of my favourite flowers. It always gives me a little thrill to see their graceful heads nodding, reminding me that the days are lengthening and nature is springing back to life.

We also found a lovely bank of crocuses. Another subtle sign that the seasons are turning.

Crocuses

Today we headed off to the Maple Sugar Festival at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham, NJ. It was a tremendous amount of fun. My associations with maple syrup were all with Vermont and the like (basically places I’ve never been!) so it was wonderful to realise that our New Jersey patch also has a fine tradition of maple syrup (I guess I now understand why our town is called Maplewood!).  There were some great nature tables for my son to explore as well as crafts. Here he is sporting the rather dashing mask he made: Mask

We also saw a plant new to me:

Skunk cabbage

I thought it was beautiful, with its scarlet fronds creeping through the swampy leaf litter. My husband recognised it immediately, the striking (but stinky) skunk cabbage. It’s a good reminder that beauty comes in all shapes (and smells!).

St Brigid’s Day

1 Feb

 

Today is the feast of St Brigid (or Lá Fhéile Bríde in Irish). It’s also the Celtic festival of Imbolc, so it marks the start of Spring in the Irish calendar.

My (American) husband thinks I’m mad, but I really do think of Spring starting on 1 February, Summer (Bealtaine) on 1 May, Autumn (Lughnasadh) on 1 August and Winter (Samhain) on 1 November. In fact, it was only when I moved abroad to study as a teenager that I realised other countries didn’t see it that way! And I’m still never sure when my husband thinks seasons start (is it at the solstices? Or on a particular month day?).

Anyway, St Brigid, the female patron saint of Ireland, featured quite prominently in my childhood as the primary school I went to was named after her. We always made St Brigid’s crosses around her feast day every year. We’d collect reeds from a marsh near our home and weave them together to make the cross, like this:

 

The cross would then hang in the kitchen for the year, gradually drying out and turning brown, before being burnt the following St Brigid’s day and replaced with a fresh cross. I’ve not made a cross in years, but my mum still has an ancient one from when we were still at school hanging way up high in the kitchen.

While St Brigid is an interesting early Irish saint, she shares her name with the mother goddess of Celtic Ireland – the goddess Brighid. I was definitely taught more about the saint, but she and the goddess are bound together in my childhood memories so I can’t really separate the two in my imagination.

For me, this day is a day to reflect on the gradual lengthening of the days, the return of light to our lives after Winter’s darkness. I leave for work at 7.30am and these days it’s now bright (sun isn’t officially up yet but it’s inching closer by the day). I love this time of year, as I can’t help but be cheered by the days getting longer.