Snow fell today.
As I stood by the front of the cottage, the mountain of Sliabh an Iarainn appeared to suddenly rise up in a shroud of white.
More often than not it merges into the sky in shades of grey and sometimes blue, but today it stood out proud, gleaming white.
This mighty mountain, where once the ancients mined iron ore and ushered in the Iron Age, rises from the shores of Lough Allen to the North East, as Kilronan Mountain faces the cottage, sentinel-like, to the North.
It too was dusted with a covering of light snow.
I retreated to the warmth of the cottage and watched the snow fall.
By the time I went into the bedroom to make the bed, Sammy-Bear had made a nest and curled up for the day…I exited the messy room and closed the door!
Sammy-Bear often sleeps in my bedroom to escape Charlie, who often makes great sport from terrorizing his betters!
Charlie and Jack are quite good friends now.
It’s a hierarchical relationship…Charlie’s the boss!
The evening has drawn in fast…there is not much to notice yet in the stretch of the day…it slowly manifests when we are busy getting used to the new year.
Now is the time to make the most of the days of hibernation left to us, for they are few in number…the Spring moves in faster than we realise.
Charlie knows this…in fact, looking into his eyes, I’d say that Charlie knows an awful lot!
Midwinter, past and present…all here for you to see!
Feeling a touch nostalgic, I decided to share some of the magic of Midwinter with you from previous years.
The silvery light of a midwinter sun captures a sense of magic indoors.
We are all deeply affected by light and respond in varying ways to it, though mostly it makes us feel happier and more positive about life.
The light of both the sun and moon proved so important for our ancestors that they integrated all aspects of both into their spiritual lives.
Our bodies and minds ascent with the sun towards Midsummer, filled with joy and optimism.
Much of humankind has forgotten the importance of observing the heavens and being mindful of our connection to them.
The star that flashes red and green, (I was told was Arcturus), has moved from its midsummer position above Kilronan Mountain to the north, to one high in the south eastern night sky.
I have come to be more aware of the night sky over recent years…
As we continue on the descent towards Midwinter, with clear, cold night skies, this can be a good time to look to the heavens.
Midwinter will pass soon enough and the cycle will begin once more.
The darkness will lift.
Days will lengthen.
And life emerge anew!
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Snow fell this morning…in between rain and brilliant sunshine!
It was like a convergence of all the seasons in one morning!
Legs and arms, uncovered for the first time in months, looked a sickly white in shorts and T-shirts.
This year, the season is late.
About 4-6 weeks in some parts of the garden!
However, the polytunnel is really paying for itself, as I have all the fruit and veg in pots, growing big and strong and ready for when the weather settles down and all danger of frost has passed!
I have been hauling more and more stone from the edges of the land, into specific areas, where the passive solar heat trapped in the stone will help growth in annual crops, creating micro-climates.
As the season is late, it allows more time for me to catch up with the bigger tasks here at Bealtaine Cottage.
Always looking for the silver lining!
The Bats are out from hibernation and yesterday, as I walked down the lane-way, a butterfly fluttered just ahead of me, for most of the walk.
The bees are flitting from one heavily laden Ribes bush to another…their end of hibernation feast!
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The wind howled all night as it carried snow in from the Atlantic Ocean.
The moon drifted downwards as the sun rose.
Somewhere in-between I got up and lit the stove, walked the dogs and returned to settle into a hunker-down day in the cottage.
Animals know when it’s cold and really appreciate being indoors!
Che-Mousy-Bear is purring loudly on the sofa nearby my desk.
Sam sits opposite.
The Primroses and Daffodils don’t seem to mind.
The snow is soft and fluffy with little ice and no frost.
Today I shall work in the tunnel, sowing herbs and pumpkins…it’s Spring, even if there is snow!
Indoors I am sorting seed and making Smudge Sticks for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Shop.
A big pot of vegetable soup is on the menu…just the thing on a snowy day!
It is cold and windy…quite an icy wind at that! maybe the predictions for snow are coming true…brrr!
An indoors day at the cottage…just a quiet time with some thoughts, reflections and maybe a little painting…
The Plants of Christmas
The plants traditionally associated with Christmas were Holly,Mistletoe, Ivy and Common Yew. These trees and plants have had special roles in earlier religions and past cultures.
The Celts in Ireland had midwinter festivals to celebrate the return of the sun from the shortest day.
In the 4th and 5th centuries, 25 December was gradually adopted as the date for Christmas in Europe in order to superimpose on the existing mid-winter festivals.
The Roman festival of Saturnalia was a week of public feasting, dancing, singing and gambling. Houses were decorated with evergreens and bunches of holly were given as tokens of friendship. When this festival was absorbed into the Christian calendar, Holly and the other evergreens were absorbed as well.
Fire and Celebration
In The Bleak Midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Ascent To Spring
Dawn breaks in the east and illuminates the snow that has fallen overnight.
Last night was very cold indeed, so it’s no surpise to awaken to such a winter landscape.
As I write this at 11am, the snow has begun to fall silently once more, surprising the onlooker at the sudden transformation.
Somewhere, deep within the recesses of the barn, is stored a sleigh and there’s a good possibility that it will be brought out this weekend!
Just another five days until the time of the midwinter solstice.
This lasts for about three days or so and if the weather is good, with clear skies, then the Newgrange visitors should be well pleased!
Cats will always find a home. The cleverest cats manage to find hotels. Cat hotels. The best food, drink and accomodation, free of charge with limitless facilities!
And so it is that Missy the ginger cat has come to stay at Bealtaine Cottage…
Missy is the daughter of a feral cat. Her mother was killed on the road, leaving Missy and her siblings orphaned and living in the hedgerow. A kindly man rescued them and Missy came to live at Bealtaine. years later she went further afield, to London and became a city cat…but has now returned to Bealtaine Cottage.
I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there’s a saucer of milk in it for them. ~ Douglas Adams
Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
And every deyntee that is in that hous,
Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.
~ Geoffrey Chaucer The Manciple’s Tale
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. ~ Jeff Valdez