Dear friends and patient readers, I am sorry to have neglected you for so long. But the cause has been a good one! Three decades ago, I injured one knee, and four arthroscopies, lots of PT, and a good deal of pain later, it was time to give up and have the total knee replacement that had been planting itself securely in my path for the last several years.
I spent the latter part of autumn in aggressive physical therapy and preparation for the procedure. The surgery itself was in early December, and I've been rehabbing ever since. I'm doing very (very!) well, but this is a challenging surgery to have and to recover from-- lots of hard work involved. Much pain to be pushed through. I also returned to work months earlier than most people do after TKR; I'm a teacher, and I wasn't willing to be separated from my students for months. So, I gritted my teeth and was back at work only 4.5 weeks after surgery (for reference, most people don't return until 4-6 months postop).
The world outside is covered with softly drifting snow, nearly two feet deep in places. There is a hush in the air, roads empty, storefronts dark. Lady Winter has us in Her icy grip, and it feels as though She will continue to hold us for ages to come. And yet, I saw a robin yesterday.
As I drove around attending last minute birthday/Super Bowl party tasks, I caught sight of a small brown form flitting over a snow-covered cornfield. My heart leapt as I spied that plump gentleman's crimson waistcoat, so bright against the gray February sky. What joy to see that feathered harbinger of Spring, and on Imbolc eve, no less. It seemed an auspicious omen.
Beannachtaí Féile Imbolg! Beannachtaí Féile Bríde. Blessings of Imbolc! Blessings of Brigid's Feast! At Imbolc we are at the crossroads of the winter, six weeks past winter solstice, six weeks until spring equinox.
The first days of February have been clear, frosty, but the sun has such a seductive heat in Ireland even in February. They say that weather like this augurs more cold, as the Cailleach is yet to release a vice-like grip on the land. If it had been overcast and mild then the springtime was come.
I’ve planted seeds in ritual, at Imbolc before now. Of course if you wanted bulbs, those had to be in ground weeks, if not months ago. There are many things too delicate to put in the soil at this time of year – leafy salad plants and other exotica from warmer climes won’t tolerate the tail end of winter on the UK. There are still heavy frosts, and many plants can’t bear them. Some things won’t be planted until much later in the spring.
In life, as in agriculture when you plant may well depend a lot on what you are planting and when you hope to harvest it. Many projects take years to come to fruition. As an author I find I’m usually seeing the fruits of things I wrote months ago... this February, it’ll be seeds from years back that finally send up shoots. The third volume of Hopeless Maine (that’s the book cover adorning this post) comes out as a webcomic at www.hopelessmaine.com while a book I wrote years ago – Fast food at the centre of the world, finally comes to life as an audio series at www.nerdbong.com. Often we plant things with no idea of whether they will grow, much less when.