In the middle of May.
FU, North Dakota.
The kids were bummed that we had a mostly-brown Christmas.
I’ve been ecstatic.
Warmer weather means smaller electricity and heat bills.
It means spending less on gas for my vehicle and worrying less about getting places on time due to bad roads and awful traffic.
It means I haven’t had to worry – yet – about getting a new winter coat… which I really need, but hate shopping for. Also new winter boots.
This warmer weather has been a blessing for me. With a smaller income after the divorce, it’s nice to catch a break, even if I do know it’s short-term and won’t last. I’ll take the blessings where they fall, thanks!
I know the colder weather is coming… this is North Dakota, after all.
But I’ll smile and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather while I can get it!
Sometimes, like tonight, I have trouble expressing myself.
I’ll call it “writer’s block”, or “extreme mind fog”, or simply being tired.
But that’s crap.
And I’m calling myself out on it.
Part of it is that the weather does affect me. We had some really nice days, where things started to melt. I was up, I was happy, Spring was on its way.
And then….. it got cold again.
And my mood has spiraled with it.
Also, there’ve been some things going on at home, that I don’t talk about.
Here, or anywhere else.
Needless to say, Oz isn’t perfect, the wizard isn’t behind the curtain anymore, Toto has fleas, and the Wicked Witch is really just a woman with issues.
The natural state of life is chaos.
And if I pass it off with a joke, or a snarky remark, well, that’s a mask I’m used to wearing. It fits well, and I know just where it hangs in my closet when I need it.
This too shall pass.
Just not today.
February 2nd is tomorrow. I love February 2nd. Even with the continuing cold, and the darkness, I find myself looking forward to it, waiting, impatient, urging the calendar to flip over and be there. Because February 2nd was the beginning of something very special to me.
On February 2nd, 1999, I formally declared my intention to be Wiccan, after almost 2 years of studying it, practicing as much as I could on my own, and weighing whether this was the right path for me or not.
February 2nd is also known as Imbolc, which is a Celtic word that translates roughly to “In the belly of the mother”; or as it’s also known, Oimelc, which translates to “mother’s milk”.
This holiday falls around the time when the ewes were giving birth to the lambs, when the earliest flowers would crack through the snow’s crust to bloom. The lambs, snowdrops and crocuses were welcome signs that Mother Earth had not abandoned her children, but was promising Spring to come.
Most people now simply associate this day with Groundhog’s Day, waiting to hear what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the remainder of time before they can go outside without longjohns and mittens. In the past, it was a day for weather predictions as well, but the people watched the snakes and badgers for their weather news, instead of groundhogs.
“Imbolc is the day the Cailleach — the hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people are generally relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.” – Wikipedia
For Wiccans, at least for me, it is a day of renewal. It is the day that I restate my vows to my Goddess and God, and to myself, reaffirming that I am on the path that I am meant to follow. It is also a day for new beginnings. It is the day of hope, of promise, that the seeds that were planted, that lay fallow for the winter, hibernating, are ready to sprout and grow.
One of the seeds that I planted is almost ready to sprout. It is full of promise, full of hope, and ready to grow into a lovely garden. This seed is the idea that I was now willing to teach a class — Wicca 101. I planted the idea last fall, letting others know that I was contemplating it, and was willing to go ahead, if there were willing students. And they were. I am going to be watching this seed sprout this Sunday, as my students and I get together for the first lesson.
It is a time of great promise, for the sun is returning. Bringing light, warmth, and life. It may be still hiding right now, not obviously visible, but it’s there. It’s creeping up on us, slowly, stealthily, ready to burst out and surprise us with its beauty.
Get ready – it’s coming!
North Dakota is a state of changes. Many people here say “You don’t like the weather? Wait 5 minutes, it’ll change,” and it’s very true. There is no continuity, no sense of method to the madness that is a North Dakota weather-week.
But we’ve learned to adapt. You wear layers when you leave the house in the mornings. That way, if you suddenly have a half-day of Indian Summer, you can tear off a couple layers, and still be comfortable. And if the temperatures plummet towards quitting time, you simply re-apply said layers, and you’re nice and toasty for the drive home. Simple? Simple.
What about on those fall days, when you wake up to a chill, so you apply an extra layer, and a nice hooded jacket, but when you get to work, it starts to drizzle? Well, you’ve got an umbrella in the car, so you can pull that out – and you’re covered, literally.
And then it starts to flurry – those evil little white flakes of sky-dandruff that fall and make everything slick, before you had a chance to winterize your car (because it’s only September, dammit). Well, you haven’t forgotten completely how to be a defensive driver, just go a little slower on the way home, right? Well, you’re forgetting about all those numb-nuts out there who live permanently in North Dakota and yet have forgotten what the roads are like when they’re iced over (Wishful driving at its best). Ok, so take the back streets, Wait, which ones are bad in the winter again? Crap, the one I’m on. Ok, changing streets.
And once you get home, the clouds lift, the flurries stop, they melt almost instantly into the ground, and disappear. So when you walk in the front door, your OtherHalf turns and says “What kept you?” You try to explain, but he looks out the window, sees nothing, and looks skeptically at you.
And so you change out of all your layers, into some nice, toasty sweats, just in time for one of the children to call you and request a ride.
Ah well, it could be worse, right? At least there’s no earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, or flaming tornadoes. Yet. For a rural state, North Dakota is in a constant state of flux. No two days are ever the same.
And now the trees have started changing, and I want to go out and hug them for their fabulous color choices. But the bark’s still damp from this morning’s slushy sleet, so I guess I’ll just go outside and enjoy the sunset – while it lasts.