To the Waxing Light (35)

my mini bouquet, sunflower, bougainvillea and marigolds

Have you noticed how far north the sun has already traveled across its annual trajectory? It keeps surprising me. It seems like it’s already more than halfway back toward the spot I watch it disappear behind the mountains in the height of summer, and yet we’re not nearly to the spring equinox which I’m thinking must be the halfway point in its path. One of my favorite holidays is Candlemas, or Imbolc. It falls on February second, Groundhog Day, and marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s one of the eight main pagan holidays, and it celebrates this growing light. This year for Candlemas I built a small altar with five candles. I don’t tend to follow any rules, but I chose five white tealights for the physical symmetry—I put one in the center—and because five is the human number. I picked flowers from my garden, used a baby food jar for my tiny bouquet. I meant to post to you on the holiday itself, but I went to see a play with my Auntie Christel, A Perfect Ganesh, and the Sunday slipped away from me.

shows the altar, candles, ceramic butterfly, wooden chicken, mini bouquet of sunflower, bougainvillea and marigolds

But I am loving this lengthening of the days. This year more than ever I seem to have trouble getting things done while it’s still light. I end up walking around our neighborhood in the dark wearing my bright pink lighted dog leash like a sash to keep me safe from bike riders. Or doing my qi gong in the courtyard, my dragon’s punch toward the rim of the mountains just visible in the early night. I am not sorry for these, am enjoying each one, even the yoga I did the other night with a lamp beside me on the ground to make sure I could see any bugs who might decide to wander over. But it lifts my heart to feel those extra minutes of light added to every day, to watch the settling of darkness moving back a bit each night. Here is to the waxing light.

Are They Real? (10)

Flowers and metal watering can

I planted violas and marigolds beside my fence along the road. I say violas because that’s what it said on their six packs. I thought they were miniature pansies when I bought them. Planting is my favorite part, when the earth is clean and moist, the flower starts fresh and full of promise, full of hope. In those first days, I am drawn back again and again to feast my fill of them. On Thursday I was in my courtyard taking pictures of the evening sky, when I heard the jingle of a dog collar. People like to walk their dogs along our little road, in the habit, I think, from when the open field still lived on the other side of it. I heard a man’s voice ask if those were new flowers, a woman say something in reply. I stood still then, camera in hand, listening. There was a pause as they walked by, then the man’s voice again. “Are they real?” he asked. I didn’t know whether to be amused or offended. The woman who lived here before me had fake red tulips hanging off the front of the trailer. I shook my head, went back to capturing the changing clouds. The next morning, watering can in hand, I decide to take his question as a compliment. He must have wondered if they were real because their colors are so vivid, because they look so perfect, I tell myself. I pour water on them and shake my head again, amused now by both of us.