Today February 2nd is the Feast of Candlemas, commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ into the temple.
Reflecting on the past year, time as its want seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. At the beginning of February, it is perhaps dangerous to think that spring, despite the budding up of many plants, is already here. The greening up of the land has not yet arrived and is still a memory. Yet despite the awful winter winds, life is stirring.
Ma and I, walking in the garden came to the prometry beside the river where the Davidia involucrata grows, commonly known as the Handerchief tree or Dove Tree; although still dormant, we remember its beauty, which lies in its enormous creamy-white bracts. A native of China in western Szechwan, first discovered in 1867 by the Jesuit Abbe David, by whom the genus is named and introduced into Europe in 1903 by the great plant collector Wilson. This wondrous tree has become the best known of all the hardy exotic trees. Wilson considered it to be the most interesting and beautiful of all trees of the north temperate flora and likened the white bracts to large butterflies hovering amongst the trees. Abbe David must have been spell-bound when he first saw it growing in a ravine 150 years ago.
At this time of year, the river is in full flood and can be heard throughout the garden as it thunders through, carrying its memories as it passes through the garden on its way to the sea. The rushing water, wild and cold, the atmosphere almost tangible as it thunders on its way as it has done for thousands of years, since time began.
How heart-warming is the knowledge that soon it will be spring again and we can all rejoice.