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China Girl blog 5th February 2020

It’s February, Ma says she almost feels spring has sprung. The days lengthen and by the end of the month we will have gained nearly two hours of daylight, but beware, warmth does not match light. This can be one of the coldest months; February is an eclectic little month, cold, short and dark.

Imbolc, Candlemas and Lent revolve around abstinence, purging and fasting. Even the name February comes from Februārius, Latin for purification; a time to tuck up indoors and wait for warmer days. Not so in the garden here at Cothay, work continues as there are always endless chores. In past times, Imbolc ritual cleansing was a sort of agricultural preparation. Peasants would carry burning torches across farmland to purify the land prior to new planting and to symbolise the ever-increasing strength of the sun. The celebration marks a stirring into life after winter. Snowdrops are everywhere, natural symbols of hope and purity. They were once commonly known as Candelmas bells, and it was considered unlucky to bring them into the house before Candelmas on February 2nd.

This past week we have very nearly finished tidying the garden using our favourite garden claw, which saves so much bending and digging. Nothing stands still, life is returning; small new shoots can be seen everywhere.

Mother never thought about the flat-roofed barn until David told her there was trouble, which he spied when cutting down a tree growing rather too close. On inspection, a foot-deep of leaves were found, causing rust. Poor Marcus, being the youngest team member was delegated to clear thirty years of debris from the roof.

How life tumbles on; the sands of time dance away through the passing years and as Margaret Wood remarks in Precious Bane, ”We that are the new things gather magic as we go.”