Believe it or not, Winter is waning. I even find it hard to believe myself at times. Each week since Yule has brought either extreme cold or snow accumulations, often both. The most recent storm to come through, a Nor'Easter, dumped about a foot and a half of snow on us, burying everything in the gardens. But through each and every Clipper or Nor'Easter, I have reminded myself that Spring is on its way. I did things around my home, even in the garden between storms, to remind myself that it is coming. Mother Earth herself sent me little signs that Spring would soon be here with a whisper on the winds of "just hang in there".
Winter, for me, is always a time of preparing for Spring. The first of my gardening and seed catalogs usually arrive right around the Winter Solstice. I tuck them aside on a shelf until right after the hustle and bustle of the holidays and then dive in to them around the second week of January. I spend evenings researching new ideas for the gardens to come, paging through gardening books and texts to learn new techniques, and sketching out designs for each garden bed with my favorite set of colored pencils. Each day, I go around the house to the plants that were moved indoors for the colder months, checking on their health and reassuring them that they will be out in the fresh air and sunshine very soon, whispering to them, "Just hang in there". After each snowfall, I go out to the garden to assess the damage, if any. All of my shrubs suffered some sort of injury after the ice storm we had a couple of weeks ago. It's to be expected. In bitter cold temperatures, I shook snow from each shrub to lighten its load and pruned back broken branches. I gently cleared away snow from the plants that were wrapped in burlap to protect them from the Winter weather. Going from plant to plant and shrub to shrub, I told each one, "Just hang in there".
At Imbolc, February 2nd, I began to want signs of Spring around the house. "Just hang in there," I told myself as I began taking down some of the Winter decorations and burning the remainder of the Winter pine-scented candles. Some more snow came and then I became desperate for signs of Spring. Just then Mother Earth sent me the most beautiful sign. Last Monday, three days before the big Nor'Easter, I was coming home from work and heading to the back of my house. I looked up at my neighbor's tree to see it filled with robins. Dozens of them! And not just in that tree but in all the trees around my house. There were hundreds of robins everywhere! I stood there for the longest while, freezing cold but I didn't care, and just watched the robins. Some stayed right where they were and some went flying from tree to tree. With each flapping of wings, I heard, "Just hang in there". The robins stayed until Wednesday and then disappeared right before the Nor'Easter hit.
The day after the storm was Valentine's Day and by then I was really in need of another Spring fix. As if in answer to my prayers, my hubby came along that morning with beautiful red roses, white hydrangeas, white daisies, and red carnations. As the sounds of snowblowers and shovels filled the neighborhood, I emptied the vases of the Winter pine branches and holly that decorate my house in Winter and replaced them with the flowers. "Just hang in there." Later that day, another gift arrived, one that I gave to myself. I purchased an elemental Ostara eggs altar set from a friend of mine through her Etsy shop. (NOTE: There is a companion "Review" post coming on the heels of this one for more on this!). I immediately and carefully unwrapped it. My heart did leaps of joy and my spirit was filled with the promise of Spring! Both of these gifts said, "just hang in there".
It was also the Full Snow Moon on Valentine's Day. That night (and throughout the weekend), after I spent some time under the brilliant light of Mama Moon, I spent the evening working on cleaning out and straightening up my magical and sacred spaces. I organized the magical drawer in my kitchen, taking inventory of what I needed to restock. I condensed jars of dried herbs and flowers. I dusted off and neatened up my altar, lighting some sage candles to cleanse the area of nasties. I planned out my Ostara altar set up and made a list of some items I would need to have it exactly as I wanted for the Spring Equinox. Being and working with my herbs, candles, oils, crystals, tarot cards and all my other magical items made me feel peaceful, hopeful, grounded and centered. With a sigh of happiness, I reminded myself, "Just hang in there".
Now, here I am today, the sun shining brilliantly helping to melt away the top layer of snow but with some more snow expected tomorrow. However, a warm up is expected later in the week and lots of melting will occur. I'll use that time to gather some forsythia branches for forcing indoors in vases around the house and, by the end of February, I will have beautiful yellow flowers blossoming everywhere. The rest of February will be for the final garden plans and lists to be made, to begin the Spring cleaning of the house, both physical and spiritual, to assemble all the items I will need to begin seeds indoors, and to dream of Spring. We are in the home stretch now. There are only 30 days until Ostara, the Spring Equinox. I can deal with whatever Mother Nature brings my way knowing that. I will use the time, like my garden, to prepare for Spring. Just hang in there!