Thursday, January 31, 2019


Have you been counting the days?  I have.  We are now halfway from the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox, a date that most us forget and probably wouldn't recognize, but which was one of the four great 'cross-quarterdays' of the Celtic seasonal year.

The Celtic culture, especially in Ireland and Scotland, rests on a cyclical view of the seasons, based on the four solstices and equinoxes that you would all recognize (though you might not recognize the names used here), as well as the 4 cross-quarter days in between.

Personally I can relate to this.  I've never thought that 4 seasons captured the variety of what I actually experienced on the ground.  It's much more of a continuum.

Imbolc is tied to the ancient Irish pagan goddess St Brigid, and stretches back perhaps 5000 years.  It is set at the beginning of spring (in Ireland), where Snowdrops are blooming today.  It certainly wouldn't apply here, with a 3 foot drift of snow out back!

And through various changes over time, Imbolc has re-emerged as Groundhog Day.  The nearest celebration for us is in Wiarton, for Wiarton Willie, the only albino weather-forecasting groundhog in Canada.

When I look out the back window here and see the snow, I doubt the anyone will see Wirton Willie sticking his nose out!

 There have been several different 'Willie's' over 5 decades, but each one carries on in turn.

If he sees his shadow, we'll have an early spring - locals claim he is 90% accurate; objective analysis says he's 25% accurate.


  1. I've always thought, 'are we to take our seasonal forecasts from a grumpy rodent who's irritated at being woken up by strange people in top hats'?

  2. You will be waiting a long time to test the warmth of the soil before planting seeds!!! Love the coloured view of the seasons,I can see a quilt there, not quite a Mariner's Compass, but quite doable. Maybe I will look online to see if there is a pattern for one.

  3. I thought it was the reverse - if he sees his shadow we have 6 more weeks of winter and if there is no shadow it is an early spring. I've never seen that Celtic chart before and it is quite intriguing how Groundhog Day and Halloween have taken over 2 of the in between days.

    1. I thought the same as you about the groundhog.

  4. Cindy took us to visit Willie last summer. He refused to come out even then. I knew the days but have not seen the chart before. Thank you!

  5. No groundhogs here to see their shadow...we know we will have about 14 more weeks of winter:(

  6. Any system that gives an excuse for a celebration every 6 or 7 weeks sounds good to me!

  7. Cute little guy. We never had much winter weather, but some is coming next week! :-)

  8. The four seasons never seemed appropriate to the way the world actually works. The ancients were much more attuned to the natural world than are most people in the 21st Century. Pennsylvania also has a weather prognosticating groundhog that's no more accurate than Willie.

  9. And a happy Imbolc to you, sir.

    (I didn't even realize we were already in February)

  10. I like those Celtic folks way of thinking. Good old Wiarton Willie. I like many have grown up with that little fellows predictions and whether he sees his shadow or not doesn't matter, just talking about Wiarton Willie every year at this time is always an encouraging and hopeful sign of Spring's future.

  11. I need to turn my calendar so I don't miss tomorrow. Love the Wiarton Willie story. Hope your snow melts in time for some spring flowers. We just have lovely rain here in the Pacific Northwest of the US.