Imagining

The first brave crocuses have broken through muddy grass. Small lilac spears that look too fragile to live. There is a shift in the light and birds are more visible. The sparrows squabble again in the privet at the end of the road. Blackbirds strut beneath the hedges in the park. A young birch has been planted in memoriam of a lost brother. Trees nurse new buds on spindly fingers.

Candlemas day is grey. Heavy sleet and rain drown any hint of spring. I spend the day at my desk, working, watching the rain batter the window. Folklore says that if this day is wintry, it means winter has ended. That will prove not to be true. In the following week the wind, rain and sleet hardly stop. Soon, we get the snow-fall that has eluded us this far.

Candlemas is for dreaming of new beginnings. It is for hope in the face of uncertainty, because we aren’t yet sure that spring will come. The land is still covered in snow, ice or mud and we can’t yet guess what it will sprout. We can only look at the world with the innocence and wonder of a child and envision what it could be. This year many of us are weary, not only of the privations of winter, but of the curtailment of freedoms and the shrinking of our world. There is hope that things may move towards some kind of normal, some time this year, but we don’t know what that normal will be. If ever there was a need to imagine a new world, it is now.

A week after Candlemas and the snow begins with drifts of tiny spheres. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in noise: like pebbles flung at the windows. It leaves a dusting on the roofs and pavements that don’t get the morning sun. The air is freezing. The fire is on and we bundle ourselves up again. By afternoon, it is icy underfoot. There are wispy showers all day – and some heavy ones – but it isn’t until night that the silent, heavy snow falls.

I wake to snow that is deep enough to creak when I walk on it. There are already early footprints on the pavement. I follow them to the park, where parallel tracks of foot and paw let me know that someone has been here before us. A thrush is singing and there are soft, musical calls echoing in the silence. The sky is filled with drama. Clouds of dark grey and clouds of vivid orange. Full-bodied violet puffs and airbrushed smears. I can hear the distant cries of gulls. A crow takes a bath, tunnelling its beak and body through the snow. Throughout the day snow flurries turn the sky from blue to grey.

Recently, I’ve been drawn to painting wintry scenes, but on the evening before the snow came, I felt a shift towards spring. I spent a few hours submitting short stories for the first time since last summer. New – and old – writing ideas have begun to tickle at the edge of my imagination. I wonder what my new world will be like? More movement…more writing….more art….It isn’t yet clear. It’s not yet time to throw off the blanket of winter. I’ve heard the whisper of spring but I’ll sigh contentedly and turn over for another hour in bed. I have a little longer to dream about what my new reality will be.

For almost a week, the snow is enticing, but then it begins to turn to ice. It is hard to walk. I find a sparrow, dead on the pavement and I wonder if the cold killed it. It is a miserable day, with icy sleet and a biting wind. But it washes the ice away. The next day dawns bright and sunny as if the snow hadn’t come at all. Great tits trumpet from the trees. In the park, I look for those crocuses that had sprouted feebly just before the snow. They had sprouted at the promise of spring, only to be smothered in winter once more. But they are still there. Not only that, but there are more of them. Perhaps under the snow they imagined their way into being, but they are no longer fragile shoots, they have grown into flowers opening at the touch of the sun.

111 thoughts on “Imagining

  1. Your weather and ours sound eerily parallel. We also had small purple crocuses that were buried by the snow. Last year they were blooming in January–this year it is about 3 weeks later. I need to go see if they have survived the snow. I love this sentence. “There are already early footprints on the pavement. I follow them to the park, where parallel tracks of foot and paw let me know that someone has been here before us.” Thanks for bringing us into your enchanted world. We desperately need Spring’s hope and rebirth this year–the winter of our COVID discontent has been long and hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhh – your images of a sleet and ice-driven period are so much lovelier than what we have here. We are just living in endless grey and white skies – yours are so much more inspiring. In fact, your photographs have me believing in Spring … thanks for that bright spot!

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  3. The time for a new world. You create such a beautiful one here in the airbrushed sky and the blanket of snow that won’t go away. Imbolc appears in the fragile shoots at the end, such a beautiful image of what spring might be. This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Beautiful photos of your snowy, icy world, Andrea. It seems the weather has been extreme all over. (We’re having a wintery ‘mix’ today and tomorrow, brrr.)
    Soon the spring weather will begin in earnest, bringing forth all the floral glories with it. Soon, soon!

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  5. Strange, as I read this, much of Texas has experienced rare snow. Here in South Texas we only had a dusting of snow but plenty of freezing temperatures that are to be around for a couple of more days. We are not used to this kind of cold.

    Yet walking with you, you make it beautiful, hopeful and magical. May spring come soon though. I aswas not familiar with Candlemas but like the symbolism. We certainly need our candles blessed. Stay hopeful as that crocus.

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  6. I love how you have painted the coming of the Winter snow there and how it seems not as much but in the cover of night, the next morning reveals all…it is the same here…Too, the crocus are a very hardy flower, though small, they are strong and they endure the coldest of Winter. They, too reveal themselves…not by night…but by the warmth of the day and they always show us promise, such as Candlemas does. Thank you for a beautiful write, Andrea. Take good care.

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  7. Imagine crocuses already! (Well actually you don’t have to imagine it as you’ve already got them!) May you grow into a flower with the touch of the sun! (Not that you’re not some sort of flower already!)

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  8. Beautiful post and musings Andrea. I always enjoy them and feel as though I’ve journeyed with you. The part about being weary of winter, virus, loss of freedoms, and shrinking world really resonates and hit home for me. I do wonder what kind of world we’ll be seeing this year as we hopefully pass the peak for the virus. Will we be allowed to return to something close to normal?

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  9. I don’t do homesickness or reminiscing’s of the past very well, however, those photos stirred a lot of long lost memories from my early childhood, the mood, the clouds, the melancholy, it rose up from the deep trenches of the memory. Candlemas, I have not heard of it before, not a northern European term?
    Yes, I also remember, how the end of winter was the breading time for all kinds of hopes.
    What can I say, thank you for stirring my imagination!

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  10. The colors of those skies! There’s nothing like the particular shades of pink and purple in winter. They make the wait for spring much easier to manage.

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  11. Beautiful descriptions and thoughts, Andrea. Snow can be so much fun, mood-elevating, especially for our canine companions.

    A couple years ago, in early spring I came across bright yellow avalanche lilies blooming on a forest hillside. They’re usually the first wildflower to appear. Two days later, they were shrouded in the snow and ice of a late-season storm, bent toward the ground. Yet they prevailed, bouncing back and continuing their showy display after the snow melted, just like your crocuses.

    A good life lesson there.

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  12. “they have grown into flowers opening at the touch of the sun” – a testament to their strength and perseverance; a natural reminder that we too must not give up but forge ahead to make the most of what we have.

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  13. Hello, Andrea. The bitingly cold winds and snow of last week disappeared as if overnight. Yesterday, the weather was pleasant enough for me to sit outside for an hour. It was nice to feel the warmth of the Sun on my face; even the Bees took advantage of the brief warm spell and left their hives in their hundreds. An extra treat was seeing my first Butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoise Shell. The Snowball of Spring as begun its downhill roll. There’s no stopping it.
    Old age coupled with the cold could have proved too much for the little Spug, we’ll never know.
    Thank you for finding the time to write such a beautiful post, Andrea; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Best regards to your family including Winston.
    Take care,
    Mick.

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      • Hello, Andrea. I was at an advantage with the Butterflies and Bees. The Small Tortoise Shell Butterfly overwinters as an adult. The spare bedroom is home to a few. They are usually the last to be seen before Winter and the first to be seen before Spring.
        Bees don’t hibernate, they hunker down inside the hive, forming a cluster to keep warm.
        That meagre glimmer of sunlight was all it took to tice them out to stretch their wings.
        Keep your eyes peeled for Brimstones, they’ll be on the wing next month.
        Have a nice weekend, Andea.

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      • Hello, Andrea. I don’t go out specifically to find them, but when one crosses my path, wow, they are unmistakable. Bright lemon yellow all over, and they brighten up the dullest of days.
        The Blackbirds have started singing again. It as been a long quiet Winter without their song.
        Catch you soon, Andrea; it’s teatime. Yum yum.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Andrea, I have enjoyed to slowly walk with you in this wonderful post filled with words of beauty and spirituality. For instance, in the end you say that the crocuses might have imagined themselves into being. I agree with this beautiful sentiment.
    Your photos are wonderful, each one filled with so much emotion and colours that make you catch the breath.

    Miriam

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  15. You have very similar weather as we have here in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. We had 18 inches of snow this past weekend, but here we are Tuesday and the sun is out and the snow has all but disappeared, leaving us with a muddy mess and hopes for warmth.

    The new reality! I wonder what it will be? I hope for better times ahead, as we all do. Your writing is beautiful, my friend. Take care and be safe!

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  16. Beautifully expressed as always. Here to there are the whisperings of spring, and the snow and ice lasted only a few days. Today we even had sunshine. Hope it comes your way very soon.

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  17. Nice post, Andrea, and beautiful photos. You got quite a bit of snow, from what it looks like? We actually got one afternoon and evening of snow, which lasted for a day or so, but we loved it. I am not particularly fond of cold weather, but the uniqueness of it was appreciated!

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  18. Good to hear your thrush was singing. We had a song thrush here recently but since the cold it has gone silent. I hope it has not succumbed like your sparrow. Wishing you increasing ‘whispers of spring’ to to inspire your returning creativity.

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  19. Andrea, you capture your winter with lyrical beauty … the landscape, trees, flowers and birds all given another dimension through your descriptive writings! 😃 An absolute joy to read, I can relate to much and there seems a certain harmony within you. I wish you well this new year with creative plans – it’s great you are submitting stories again and that you are brimming with ideas. These things we can control … let us see what else comes as restrictions are eased. My cautious approach will be in place for quite a long while yet … but lots of writing time and I too feel more freedom in my soul for new projects which last year were hijacked by fear and worry. xx

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  20. Your “theatre of the sky” photos are beautiful, Andrea and your poetic words paint a vivid picture of winter laying siege to the tender beginnings of spring. Snow has fallen here as well and I was thrilled to see that the daffodils survived its onslaught…right now after a promise of sun, the sky is swollen with rain/snow clouds…the snow has melted away but the mountains will be draped in white once again.
    I’m so happy to read your Candlemas notes again…I enjoyed reading last years magical Candlemas post!

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  21. Lyrical as ever Andrea. The snow bypassed us here in Jersey to general disappointment, though I’d be happy never to see it again personally. Candlemas never figured in my early (or later) life though we had plenty enough holy days growing up.

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  22. Your weather sounds quite similar to what we’ve been experiencing. Our crocuses have started popping up, too. I could not describe them as beautifully as you did, but have noticed the same thing. Even with the snow and ice, they persist. I can see why some see them as a sign of hope.

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  23. You’ve captured this time of year in photo and in prose beautifully, Andrea. February is the long month for cold and damp, but seems to be passing quickly here. The frogs have been chorusing at good volume lately, enjoying the rain pools, and I can hear them at night even with the windows closed.

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  24. Another beautiful post – the last few lines say it all for me – the touch of the sun. What we all need right now. A bit of sun-life.

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  25. Your writing is unerringly captivating but I find this one particularly beautiful. You are so in tune with the seasons. I love the notion of winter as a blanket from which we emerge to exciting new beginnings.

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  26. Wanting to throw off the blanket of winter along with you, but it’s just not leaving around here yet. But there are hints, signs, portents. Glad your imagination is stirring and you’re writing short stories again, Andrea.

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  27. Pingback: New Beginnings – Elizabeth River Bird Blog

  28. I experienced your side of the world through your writing once again. Reading your descriptions made me feel like I was on that walk too. It was therapeutic Andrea. Thank you for writing the way you do and describing everything you see. Last year has made me weary. I cannot seem to write. Everything feels forced. In the meantime I’m loving reading your posts.

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