I had this argument, or should I say ‘debate’ out with a friend of mine this time last year. When does Spring officially start? In my mind, Spring begins on February the 1st- St. Brigid’s Day. This goes back to my primary school days, when on February 1st the Bord Dúalra (Nature Table) would take on a greener, fresher shade. Red berries, deep brown nuts and fading holly leaves would be swept off the display into the teachers’ palms. The gesture of another Winter passing. Sprouting beans atop cotton wool gauze in yoghurt pots would fill the space and on mornings, we would be witness to all feats of nature’s wonders in bold colours on the slide/ projector screen. The white and purple crocus. Talk of tadpoles would creep into (usually boys) conversations. Used 1/2 litre Milk bottles clutched in little hands would, one by one, line up along the window sill, gasping with expectation for the tadpole jelly.
And so this evening, as I lead my yoga class on the eve of the feast of St. Brigid, a Pagan Goddess to many, I paid quiet homage to the shifting of the seasons that tomorrow will mark (even if it’ still pretty Wintery outside). In the West of Ireland, St Brigid dolls made of straw (súgán) will be walked from house to house as locals bend and turn the súgán into festive shapes above doorways, welcoming visitors in from the darkness. Time to exhale and breathe again.
As I set up the music to play while my students rested in their final relaxation savasana of the yoga class this evening, I noticed how the petals of the white tulips I’d picked up last week, were now open wide, like glad children – giddy with expectation at the changes which lie ahead.
To my friend’s mind, Spring begins in late March, around the Equinox. A fair argument, perhaps. But for me, the memory of the nature table is fixed firm and February 1st signifies the wonder of tadpoles, crocus, snowdrops and light.
Anois teach an Earraigh, tá an lá ag dul chun síneadh (O Raiftearaí)
Welcome the Spring as the day stretches long.