Saturday, 3 March 2018
IN WINTER’S GRIP 2018
At the end of February and the beginning of March much of Britain, Ireland and continental Europe has been held in the icy grip of two weather fronts. One front has come from the east, the other from the west and their meeting has led to sub-zero temperatures, snow and the usual disruption. It is remarkable that the occurrence of snow in winter should come as a surprise to so many. Yet the fact that it snows in winter, does appear to be one of those minor details that some in Britain fail to appreciate.
For those of us who look at seasonal calendars and truthfully, I find such calendars fascinating, the news that metrological spring began on Saint David’s Day the 1st of March 2018, is itself rather amusing. What is shown clearly however, it that our modern society for perfectly good administrative reasons, measures times in a fixed, repetitive and predictable manner. True time and the true seasons are obviously less predictable. The boundaries between seasons are less clear, as there are apparent overlaps, a merging and a gradual move from one seasonal tide to another.
I saw the first stirrings of spring on the 1st of February, when I spotted the first flowering snowdrops in a neighbour’s garden. February began with fine, clear if cold days. This is for me Lambtide and for others Candlemas. This is the precursor to the true spring and the beginning of the spring tide, when the new growth of verdant nature begins to sally forth from the slumber of a dark winter. It is however, not at all unusual to have snow in February. We can look forward to the midpoint of the spring, the actual equinox but the cold snap that we are currently experiencing, reminds us that the world about us does not conform to an artificial, manmade calendar.
On the internet and naturally that ubiquitous phenomenon Facebook, many have posted humorously about a Disney character called Elsa from the film Frozen. This Disney ‘Princess’ is apparently being held responsible for this returning cold weather. It is not Elsa that ‘springs’ to my mind when I think of the land about me held in this icy grip. Rather I think of the character from the works of Anderson that inspired the film and is herself based upon old European legends. What links there are between the original Snow Queen of Anderson and the Cailleach of Gaelic mythology is a matter of debate, the roots of both are deep and ancient.
It is the Snow Queen that rides the wind at this present moment, holding off the Spring Goddess of the Dawn for just awhile longer. It is the voice of the Snow Queen that we can hear in the wind, it is her touch we can feel upon our faces and sadly for some, her kiss brings oblivion. The White Goddess of many names is free and energetic in her ride across the land. Whether we fear her or love her is not the point. We would however, all do well to respect her.