Midwinter Celebration

Happy Midwinter to everyone! Tomorrow we will be midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. We are celebrating today because we are both off work today.

The festivities are well under way here in the bush.

This morning began with a leisurely cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire. Then breakfast, which consisted of Florida Grapefruit, sent to us by Attila’s Dad for Christmas. I enjoyed a blueberry bagel, topped with “better butter” and wildflower organic honey from northern Alberta [my birthday present]. We listened to big band music, while Attila puttered in the kitchen and I removed the Christmas decorations from the tree.

Then out the tree went through the sliding glass door, onto the deck, and over the railing.

Attila’s Grandfather ran a general store, just as mine did. His Mom brought him an old desk from the store, because she has moved into a smaller home after the passing of Attila’s Stepdad. Today it has been brought into the living area to fill the space vacated by the Christmas Tree. It was a bit of work, the hardware on one of the legs needed minor repair.

Wrapping the decorations and storing them away is always a time consuming task, which was completed by lunchtime. After our hard work we indulged in a fresh salad for lunch.

Then we donned our boots and parkas and headed out to the back yard. The temperature was a balmy -7C, by turns the sun and the clouds shared the sky, and stiff gusts of wind created intermittent snow showers, as the tree branches gave up their bounty of white.

It was time for the ceremonial burning of the Christmas tree. Attila drove it into the snowbank, above where the fire pit rests below the snow. Then it was time to light it up. The tree took the count of three to burst into flame. The whole ceremony took about three minutes.

The Christmas Tree driven into the snowbank above the fire pit. No danger of a forest fire with this much snow surrounding the tree.
DSCF4780 xmas tree midwinter
Within the first minute the blaze was impressive, and hot.
DSCF4784 xmas tree midwinter 2
Within three minutes the process was complete. Slowly the remaining blackened branches fell down into the snow. We will store the tree trunk in a snow bank in the back yard, and burn what remains in the fire pit, in the spring.
DSCF4805 xmas tree midwinter 3

Attila is out working on snow removal, as it snowed yesterday, last night, and from time to time today. Soon it will be time for me to wander into the kitchen and get the homemade pizza started. We plan to enjoy this evening with candles, good food, and good company, just the three of us.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Sunday 2 February 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: -6.0°C
Dewpoint: -7.9°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: WNW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -12

Quote

“I have since learned that although the festival of Imbolc was far less romantic and far more practical to our Celtic ancestors than the initial image portrayed to me by Mrs Darley, it was no less magical, for it marked the beginning of the lambing season which to the Celts meant the difference between survival and extinction.”
Source: Mrs Darley’s Pagan Whispers: A Celebration of Pagan Festivals, Sacred Days, Spirituality and Traditions of the Year by Carole Carlton

Midwinter

Attila is busy with snow removal in the driveway this morning. He has a bit of job to do before he can leave for work. I am working for a few hours every day this week, so I need to get my car out of the driveway as well. Although it is warmer this morning, the wind chill is significant, -28C. I will need to bundle up for my short drive in to work! Attila will have a challenging day working outside today.

I met a young woman today who has been living without a central heating system for weeks. She lives in a workshop, which was very well heated by an outdoor wood furnace. The pipes burst. She is switching to a propane furnace, and has been waiting for the fuel supply to be delivered. In the meantime she has been using one small wood stove for heat, and spends her time indoors close beside it! She is a cheerful soul!

It was warm enough in the house this morning to risk a shower, so I took advantage of the good interior conditions to do so. I have to make sure my hair is dry before I leave for work though, because with wind chill reading -28C, a wet head is a disaster.

I must consciously turn my focus to our Sunday celebration of Midwinter. We will remove the Christmas decorations from the tree, and build a bonfire with it, to celebrate the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. We have decided on homemade pizza for the celebration, provided we have hydro. If we do not, then I am thinking that grilled cheese sandwiches over the bonfire might work out well. With the Christmas decorations stored away, the living area will seem stark, so we will spend time moving things around and attempting to add cheer to the second half of the winter weather season.

The down side of a birthday cake is that one feels compelled to eat all of it. It will not sit quietly in the kitchen, it certainly doesn’t know its place. It calls my name, insistently. Attila and I retaliated today, with aggression. That cake is gone, consumed, never to intrude on our peace of mind again!

We are enjoying leftover turkey for our dinners this week, which is not only delicious, it is quick!

Attila, after working out of doors all day and toting wood for three firings after arriving home from work, finally found spare time to shovel out the driveway, which was deep in snow, and deeper still where the plough this morning created a small mountain at the end of the driveway. He made short work of it and by 10:30 p.m. the drive was in good order. But, he said when he came in, it is snowing heavily again, so there will be more shovelling required tomorrow morning.

Many people around here ascribe to a hearty “winter doesn’t bother me” attitude. This year, for the first time since we have lived here, a significant number of the local “hearty souls” are looking and sounding bedraggled, some so much so that they now boldly state that they hate winter!

Only two more months! I hope.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

WIND CHILL WARNING IN EFFECT
SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-19°C
Date: 10:00 PM EST Monday 27 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -19.4°C
Dewpoint: -21.6°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SSW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

Quote

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela
1918-2013

Midwinter

At 5:10 a.m. this morning the north-facing side of the roof shed its entire snow load. It was a loud event. Attila slept through it, I did not.

Since the temperature is dropping now, and the January thaw seems to have concluded, it is fortunate that the roof is completely cleared of snow. It is snowing and blustery this morning, and will snow almost every day for the next two weeks, if the weather people are predicting with any accuracy.

Although it is snowing this morning, it was sunny yesterday; one of the four or five sunny days we have experienced since the beginning of December. The roads were clear yesterday.

Maple at Two Hundred Feet: I had not thought that winter’s stark black tree trunks and branches could hold such a welcome appeal. The snow banks nested in the trees melted in the thaw, leaving the only white a carpet lying below.
Maple tree DSCF4672

One of my tasks yesterday was to telephone the hospital and re-schedule a mammogram, which had been cancelled due to snow squalls in December. I needed my health card for the process, and noticed the expiry date on it. Oh dear! I had meant to renew my health card while were visiting the little house in the city. But we were having such a fine time visiting with family, that my good intentions were completely forgotten. It wasn’t until I looked at the health card yesterday, that I remembered that it needed to be renewed.

Since conditions were ideal for travel, I hopped in the car and drove the 70 km round trip to have my health card renewed. It was a good experience, as it was the last time I renewed it. I have had bad experiences though, when we lived in the city. The process in the city was time-consuming, officious and rude, an assembly line sort of misery. The rural experience was formal but not officious, you might even consider the clerk to have been courteous.

Since I was in town, it was a perfect opportunity to purchase supplies, so I did. I was back home, and had the supplies unloaded and put away, by the time Attila arrived home from work.

It was nice to be out of the house on a real errand. The drive was lovely, the traffic was light to non-existent, and the scenery was stunning as usual.

I have been giving thought to a winter celebration and finally decided upon a simple event. The first Sunday in February will be approximately midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, Midwinter, we will call our celebration Midwinter. We will take our Christmas decorations down, burn our Christmas tree in a bonfire, prepare a special meal, probably a turkey dinner, and light candles in the house after dark.

Having said this, I must observe that winter weather arrives in this part of Canada long before the Winter Solstice, and spring arrives long after the Spring Equinox, but in roughly equal measure. Spring-like weather does not really occur where we live until April; we have dead-of-winter weather until the end of March.

The end of January, beginning of February, has some associated history, in a variety of places and cultures. There is “Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-molk or i-molg ), also called Saint Brighid’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde, Scottish Gaelic: Là Fhèill Brìghde, Manx: Laa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring.” What is the beginning of spring in other parts of the world is midwinter in Canada. Then there is Groundhog Day, which has little meaning as far as I am concerned, in the Canadian climate. Much is made of it in parts of Ontario, but I have never regarded it as having any kind of significance, in any way. Then there is Pancake Tuesday, later in February, a religious day, which is also loosely associated with Mardi Gras.

The family continues in good health. Imp lost her first tooth last week! She is quite the young lady now, and seems very pleased to be so. The move to England is looming, set for the spring.

Terra and Lares have a new puppy, unnamed thus far. She is a black lab, and very, very cute, from the pictures we have seen. That makes theirs a household of seven, two humans, two dogs, and three cats. Fortunately it is a very big house.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-2°C
Date: 9:33 AM EST Wednesday 15 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -2.0°C
Dewpoint: -7.5°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: SSW 28 gust 41 km/h
Wind Chill: -9

Quote

“We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.”
Maya Angelou
1928-