Imbolc – the Spiritual Garden Cycle Begins

Punxatawney Phil of Ground Hog Day fame showed his furry face this morning. Woodchucks, aka groundhogs [LATIN], tend to be ornery critters so you’ll have noticed that he was handled with gloves. Legend had is that if Phil sees his shadow the morning of 02 Feb then there will be six more weeks of winter, else winter weather will soon end. I have two takes on this (in gardener-geek speak): {if (TRUE==shadow) then remaining_winter = six_more_weeks else remaining_winter = 1.5 months};. The second take is that Phil’s ritualistic hauling out of his well fed cage represents a last hanging thread of our human heritage on this planet; that we unconsciously and subconsciously had this day chosen for us by the rotation of the Earth around the Sun.

Phil’s looking prosperous state is well matched by his burgher handlers. None of them really know what’s going on. In Nature’s course they would be thinned considerably now having burned off their body fat in surviving the winter. They are acting out a ritual ingrained in our collective sub-conscious from the time before written words. from the time of giant stone celestial calendars and rocks that mark each hill top of Ireland at a tilt of [NEEDSDATA] towards the sun – the exact tilt of the Earth’s axis which brings us our seasons.

The Great Celtic Wheel of the Year is marked with eight spokes and all are determined by the position of the Sun and the Four Seasons. The Wheel breaks these four seasons into eight smaller seasons call cross-quarter [NEEDSLINK] days. This further division of the sun’s relative latitudinal position marks important times in the agrarian life cycle. [NEEDS LINK?]. These days are marked in our DNA since we began to settle down, plant seeds and form communities.

In the age of Michael Pollans’ Omnivore’s Dilemma we unknowingly continue to celebrate these pre-BCE days with a little time out from the diurian dreariness of mid-winter to acknowledge that the spring is coming and it’s time to shift gears in the garden activities. The time has come to plan the crop rotation, choose the seeds, begin the indoor seedling starts and in this strangest of years here on the coastal plain of SE Mass, wait for the two plus feet of seven weeks continuous snow cover to melt into the ground and make it workable for the direct seeding and early transplants. [P NEEDSWORK]