I watch snow fall
so small it is no
more than dust
and when it touches
is barely felt
on blades of grass
it melts and disappears
The beginning of February marks the ‘turning of the light’, the point in the calendar when warmth begins to return to the earth. The land is still sleeping, seeds of new life buried under a barren landscape. We are at the half way point between winter solstice and spring equinox, a date celebrated in the Celtic calendar as Imbolc and in the Christian calendar as Candlemas. It is a day when we celebrate new life waiting to return.
I take advantage of a still frosty day and walk up to the wood. A mauve smoke of blackthorn curves along the ditch and the treelines are bones against the sky. I have been thinking about sound and our experience of it. In winter, wildlife sounds carry through the cold air. The woodland acts as an amplifier, seeming to bounce and echo noise within. Bird calls are crisp and bright, matching the weather. Sound recordist, Geoff Sample, in a talk to Waveney & Blyth Arts, told us that after the winter solstice the increasing light triggers bird song and that the great tit is often the first bird to sing.
The garden may be bleak, the grass crossed by frost blackened paths, the earth puddled down and lifeless, last year’s plants lying like brown shadows across the borders, but there are beacons of hope. By the front door yellow globes of aconites shine with snowdrops, Candlemas Bells.
small points of white light
shine beneath the hornbeam
like stars at night-time
In these dark days we might look to the skies for hope. Pin pricks of light shine in the night-time sky. The stars hold stories that go back to the earliest days of man. The Seven Sisters, the cluster of stars known as The Pleiades, feature in prehistoric cave paintings. Without the glare of human lights, which can be seen from space illuminating the globe, the night sky must have offered a deeply mystical and fascinating spectacle. Even now, if we can find a horizon away from artificial light we gaze in awe at the worlds spinning light years away from us.
How much we can see is calculated every year by the Countryside Charity, CPRE, whose star count maps record the stars seen within the constellation of Orion. Between 6 and 14 February 2021 look south into the night sky, find the Orion constellation with its four corners and ‘belt’ of three bright stars, then count the number of stars you can see within the rectangle formed by the four corner stars.
More info and sign up here
The stars offer our creative minds an opportunity for poetry, song, photography and artwork. And that feeling of awe when we gaze at the night sky can help with our happiness and well-being.