Author: The Redneck Pagan
Well, it is very much official that winter is here in Alberta! The season has been making itself known for a while here. We were blessed with a long and lazy summer. Even by mid September, we had bright sunny days, and the leaves had barely shifted colour. Some had started the process by early October, when over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend we had some snow flurries and a few chilly days. Things warmed up again for a while, then the week before Samhain we got hit with snow, freezing rains here and there, a full week of ice fog and freezing cold nights. Then on Samhain itself it snowed, and it really snowed, at my house. I had at least two inches to shovel through. My newly purchased winter tires (with many thanks and love to my husband who made sure I had them) got a real workout the same day they were put on my car!
It felt like we did not have a fall at all. The leaves on my Rowan and apple trees have now turned brown and are being blown off when the wind decides to give us a good blast, but they never really turned. I had not the chance to get the fallen crabapples up off the ground from where they fell. my garden was nowhere near ready for this sudden dump of snow, and I have to be honest, neither was I! Being sick with a nasty cold this past week, I have been keeping myself thoroughly buried under the blankets and trying my best to do that “lalalala, if I can’t see you, then you don’t exist” routine. I also was rather miserable at having only a week or two of my favorite season (Autumn) to enjoy. However, no matter how hard I tried, winter is not going to go away for a while (especially here in Central Alberta) .
A few days ago, we were blessed with a bright day where the temperature made it as high as 5 degrees Celsius! (Some people from warmer climates are probably going to think I am crazy for calling that a high temperature!) I had the day off work and decided not to waste it. I opened all our windows to air out the house before we had to “batten down the hatches” again. I did some housework (actually a lot of housework, after being sick for a week it really piled up!) sweeping, vacuuming and mopping the floors. My husband and I used a gift card to buy a steam mop. What a blessed invention that is! Two cups of water within it and the floors are beautifully clean and sanitized without any heavy chemicals. For protection and purification I used peppermint oil in my oil lamp and moved it into each room as I cleaned! Between that and the sunshine beaming into the house, I could feel the entire energy of the house, and my own, lift.
When the sun had softened up the snow, I tackled our driveway with a shovel. While taking one of my many breathers (snow is heavy and I really need to get in shape!) , I looked across into the fields near my house and watched two foxes playing a game of chase and evade in the field. They ran after one another, jumping onto each other, rolling in the snow and bounding around! It was an absolute delight to see. I then moved to our uncovered deck. As I shoveled and rested, I looked into the yard and saw our puppy engaging in a new game. Our puppy (well, she is now a year old, but it takes almost two years for dogs to grow out of the puppy brain) was having a treasure hunt in the snow, digging down and finding the crabapples that I had not been able to gather under the snow. She pulled them up, throwing them in the air and chasing to where they landed. She then raced around the yard with it; diving headfirst into larger snow drifts every chance she got! She rolled in the snow and when she got tired she would gobble a mouthful of snow and eat her apple.
As the sun began to slip out of the sky the temperature dropped, reminding me that even though it was a warm sunny day, we are in the dark half of the year. Taking a reluctant puppy inside with me, I tackled making some supper and placed it in the oven to finish cooking. I went to the fireplace and lit a fire with some nice cedar firewood my husband’s mom had let us take from her backyard. I threw in a pinch of salt and a few sage leaves and then sat, enjoying the warmth of the fire while waiting for my husband to come home. As I sat, I reflected how nice it was to have a day at home to get caught up.
I then began to think of the past few weeks, of the cold and the snow, and the nasty roads we had to endure. I then thought of the foxes playing in the snow, and the puppy’s madcap sport through the yard. I let my tired muscles relax as I rested and thought of all the farmland around my house, resting like I was after all the activity of the summer. The fields that had been tilled, seeded, supported the growth of their crops and then harvested are now silent and still. The earth, the creatures in the earth such as the earthworms, soil nutrients and bacteria’s, all granted a respite brought on by the snow.
I thought of my garden, all the great things that came out of it… and the long hours of backbreaking work I put into it! Since harvesting (thank Goddess I got that done before the snow flew) , I have not done any gardening asides from keeping my poor houseplants alive. I thought about how it was nice to not have to weed, or mow the lawn anymore. I thought of long nights cuddling by the fire with the pets and my husband, about all the reading I want to get done over the winter, the big Yule dinner I am planning on hosting (our first Yule in the new house and first time hosting!) . I also planned a few changes in my pagan room, and the sorting and organizing and clearing out of clutter I plan on undertaking while the snow flies.
I noticed how much my thoughts have been turning within, examining myself, my motivations, and actions. Not always a pretty sight when one reflects on the times one has lost her temper, or not been as kind as she could have been. I looked a bit at some of my reactions to things, at some of the anger I have been holding onto that has not made me the most pleasant person to be around (and how lucky I am that my husband puts up with the moodiness I sometimes toss out) . I planned out the basic bones of some cleansing and releasing rituals I want to work on over the next few weeks and some changes I want to make within.
Sitting there, beside the glow of the fire, with content puppies snoozing at my feet and my cat purring in my lap, I began to understand the need for winter, the need for the cold. I understood the blessings that the winter has bestowed upon me and the opportunities that the dark time of year has granted me. I am still not thrilled at the shoveling, or having to scrape the windshield every day. And I am not enjoying the extra time to drive home or having to bundle up just to look out the door. But I welcome the winter… begrudgingly.
The Redneck Pagan