Right on Schedule

This time each year the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks come back from their winter vacation down south. I can set my calendar by them.

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak; May 2, 2022.

The male usually arrives during the second week of May. This year he arrived a tad early. I’m not complaining, mind you; I look forward to that first flash of black, white, and red in my peripheral vision and his sweet call as he sings for his mate.

The male typically arrives ahead of the female but she came in right on his tail feathers.

Female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. The blurriness is due to her moving around, not the person holding the camera.

Ahhhh, spring is here. The only members of the usual gang that are missing are the Baltimore Orioles. I can be patient, though, because I have a new bird who wants to join the crew.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

Yup, the Pileated Woodpecker has taken a liking to my yard. It must be all the cool insects I have living around my property. And the snags (the bodies of the dead trees I kept after the tops were removed.)

Summer, 2021.

Okay, back to my Pileated Woodpecker. Gorgeous bird.

And huge. Pileated Woodpeckers have a wing span of 30 freaking inches. They’re the biggest forest birds of the North American continent.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

You might ask how I know this guy is a male. It’s the red stripe along the side of his face. Females have a black stripe.

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

Sooooooooo cool.

Okay, now for a game. Find the Great-Blue Heron in this photograph.

Great-Blue Heron.

Can you spot him, or her, hiding behind the branch? At least it’s trying to hide; it needed a bigger branch.

Great-Blue Heron.

There he, or she, is. Herons aren’t known for their hide-and-seek skills.

Wow, this has been one heck of a great start to May; I can’t wait to see what other blessings the month has in store for me.

Oh, and happy birthday to my son. Twenty-eight. Wow!

Chris, back in 2013, when I bought my little corner of the Concord River.

But wait, how did he get older while I remained young and vibrant? Something to ponder.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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The Wonderful Month of May

For those of us who follow the Craft, May 1st is the sabbat of Beltane, the halfway point between the first day of spring and the first day of summer. It’s a time to celebrate the blossoming of the fertile earth around us and dance yourself into a frenzy around a May Pole, bonfire, or with your dog while Justin Timberlake sings in the background.

Official Video for ”CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! (from DreamWorks Animation’s “TROLLS”)” by Justin Timberlake.

I choose #3 — Nobody can get an old lady dancing like JT.

At its roots, Beltane honors the return of the light and fire is an integral part of its celebration. Light a candle, either as part of a magical ritual or simply for the beauty it creates.

https://concordriverlady.com/2022/05/01/the-wonderful-month-of-may/(opens in a new tab)

Photo: Pexels.com/Tucă Bianca

Beltane is also a time to give thanks for the abundance the Universe bestows upon us, and what better way to say thank you than with a feast. Your feast doesn’t have to be lavish, a simple cup of tea will do. Just remember to say a blessing before sipping.

After you’ve finished your tea, head outside and spend some time with Mother Nature. If you go out at night, listen for spring peepers and toads.

Another great way to celebrate May is to count the different species of birds you see.

Female Downy Woodpecker.
American Robin
Male Eastern Bluebird.

And guess what? I saw one. Oh, happy day.

I saw a male Ruby-throated hummingbird; I saw a male Ruby-throated hummingbird.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo, so I’ll use one from 2021.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, circa 2021.

However you choose to celebrate Beltane, I hope it brings you joy.

May you be safe and protected.
May you be peaceful.
May you live with ease and kindness.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

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Ruby-Throat Migration Update

THEY ARE HERE!!!

At least in my area, haha.

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration-spring-2022-map.htm

The Ruby-throats have made it to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and are on their way to Canada. These little jewels of Mother Nature will be hungry after their long trip North so get those nectar feeders filled and charge your camera batteries.

Yipee, they’re here!!!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, waving hello!

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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A Bedtime Story

Or a morning story. It could also be an afternoon story.

Basically, it’s a story for anytime of the day.

The Old Woman and The Hose

The was once an old woman who lived in a quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north. The direction of the river has no bearing on our story, nor does the fact that the old woman lived alongside the river.

In truth, living in a quaint cottage is a minor detail as well.

All that matters is the woman was old.

And had a hose.

One day the old woman decided to water her garden. First, she took her feeble body to the store and purchased a watering wand to attach to her hose. The old woman chose the least expensive watering wand she could find because, not only was the old woman old, she was also frugal.

‘Now I can water my plants,’ she said cheerfully as she attached the watering wand to the quick-disconnect thingy already installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

The old woman hummed to herself as she turned on the water faucet and tried to skip, for you see the old woman was old and old women don’t skip all that great, to the watering wand attached to the quick-disconnect thingy already installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

The old woman flipped the thumb control on the watering wand into the ON position and pointed the watering wand attached to the quick-disconnect thingy already installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north, at her garden.

No water flowed.

‘Perhaps I don’t have the water turned high enough,’ the old woman mused as she shook the watering wand attached to the quick-disconnect thingy already installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

The old woman hobbled back to the water faucet. Screw skipping, she thought,
and turned the dial all the way.

For a second time the old woman flipped the thumb control of the watering wand into the ON position and pointed the watering wand attached to the quick-disconnect thingy installed on the end of the hose… whatever…

Drip, drip, drip.

‘WTF!’ the old woman scowled. ‘This watering wand is a piece of @#%&.’

The old woman removed the watering wand attached to the quick-disconnect thingy installed on the end of the hose, yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah.

‘How dare they sell me a piece of junk,’ the old woman grumbled.

Determined to return the watering wand to the store for a full refund, the old woman placed the watering wand in the trunk of her car while she consoled herself with thoughts of giving the store manager a piece of her mind.

Not one to be daunted by a broken watering wand, the old woman decided she would squirt water through the quick-disconnect thingy by releasing the tension in the quick-disconnect thingy installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

Proud of herself for being such a quick thinker, the old woman began humming again and tried to skip to the water faucet, although the skipping wasn’t as jubilant as the first time. After all, the old woman was still old, and tired of walking back and forth.

Returning to the hose, the old woman pointed the end with the quick-disconnect thingy installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north, at her garden and released the tension.

Drip, drip, drip.

Words that would have made a street urchin blush filled the peaceful setting on the shore of the winding river that flowed north.

The old woman was not a happy camper as she stomped back to the faucet to turn off the water. The old woman was a very good stomper for such an old woman.

‘Stupid quick-disconnect thingy must be faulty,’ the old woman grunted, as she tried to twist the quick-disconnect thingy from the end of the hose that was located…ah, who cares?

The quick-disconnect thingy did not budge.

Not even when the old woman used pliers.

Not even when the old woman sprayed WD-40 on the quick-disconnect thingy.

Not even when the old woman bashed the quick-disconnect thingy with her
hammer.

Growling like a feral dog, the old woman grabbed her wire snipers and cut the hose, thus removing the quick-disconnect thingy that had been installed on the end of the hose that was located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

‘Stupid piece of %#@&.’

For a third time the old woman returned to the faucet and turned on the water. She stomped back to the end of the hose that no longer had a quick-connect thingy installed but was still located at the quaint cottage on the shore of a winding river that flowed north.

Drip, drip, drip.

The old woman shook the hose.

Drip.

The old woman peered into the hose, wondering if a mouse had crawled inside.

Drip.

‘My damn water pressure must be off,’ the old woman cried, as thoughts of her money filling the dependable, but costly, plumber’s hands.

The old woman whimpered and dragged her defeated old body to the faucet to turn off the water.

And that was when she saw the problem.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Stupid old woman.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Coming Around Again

I know nothing stays the same. Things change, life moves on, days become weeks which become months and so on. However, I also know that if I wait long enough what was will come around again, because, well that’s just how life is.

But one must be patient.

It’s a different year, and possibly different birds, but the American Goldfinches are molting, because that’s what Goldfinches do in the spring season.

Molting Male American Goldfinch, April 2022

Twelve months later my daffodils are blooming–again.

Daffodils, April 2022.

True to their nature, the Grackles returned to my corner of the Concord River to eat my seed and mealworms, and be general pains in the butt.

Common Grackle, April 2022

Mother Nature threw me a curve ball though. Two starlings, who I call Mutt and Jeff, although I’m sure one is a female, have made themselves welcome at my mealworm feeder and they are on a mission to eat every dang mealworm.

Sure it’s a pretty bird but it’s also a glutton. I have a hunch from the two starlings that I have now I will end up with several more next year, and more the next, until…

1963, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’

Did you know the movie The Birds was loosely, I stress the word loosely, based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 story by the same title? Again, I stress the word loosely. And, yes, I know the picture is showing crows and I was discussing starlings but hey, they’s all black, glossy, and at times, annoying as heck.

Coming around again are my pair of Canadian Geese. At least I think it’s the same pair. Since they all look alike I can’t be sure. No biggie, I’ll just pretend it’s the same two geese who have visited me for the past couple of years.

Mama and Papa Canadian Geese, April 2022.
Canada - geese - waterfowl - animals - birds - nature - wildlife
They look the same. Canadian Geese, April 2021.

At least this year one of my Mallard duck mating pairs have a distinguishing adornment.

Mallard duck breeding pair, April 2022.

Can you spot it?

Keep trying.

My Great Blue Heron is back. See, what did I tell you–nothing stays the same, but, if you wait long enough, things will come around again.

Great Blue Heron, April 2022.

See, what did I tell you–nothing stays the same, but, if you wait long enough, things will come around again.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Happy Belated Birthday

It was Harlee’s birthday on March 21. Hmmm, it might be the 22nd. Definitely not the 23rd.

It’s the 21st because I remember it was the first day of Spring.

Harlee and me, March 2017.

Oops, the first day of spring in 2017 was March 20th.

Okay, let’s try this again.

It was Harlee’s birthday a few day ago; either the 20th, 21st, or the 22nd of March.

He turned seven.

At least I think he’s seven. The rescue association, Labs4Rescue, told me he was two years old but the folks who work at rescue places don’t always know the exact ages of the animals they save.

So, Harlee might have had a 7th birthday.

At least he got a donut.

Harlee on his ‘maybe’ birthday.

And even though I don’t remember the exact date, and yes, I could get up and dig out the paperwork from when I adopted him but it doesn’t matter, I’ve had him in my life for five incredible years, that’s what matters.

Harlee, 2017.

He’s been with me through losing my sister, hip surgery (my hip, not his), COVID (me), falling multiple times (again, me, not him), serious visits down the rabbit hole of depression (yup, that’s mine too), and a gazillion gallons of ice cream (mostly me but he helps out from time to time), and multiple donuts (both of us).

He’s been by my side through the loss of Shadow, and then Cleo.

Cleopatra.
Harlee and Shadow.

He’s entertained me…

‘I’m keeping my toys.’

…and keeps the ducks in line.

Harlee and my flock, 2021.

He’s loves to go for rides in the car and in the canoe.

‘Let’s get going.’

He’s a serious pillow, or whatever, pounder.

Supervises all outside chores…

…and can sniff out a chipmunk no matter how deep the hole.

He’s a pro at guilting me into giving him a cookie.

‘Cookie, please.’

He’s my confidant, sounding board, witness, and companion.

Harlee, 2022.

Happy birthday, pal.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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A Joyous Ostara to One and All

Mole was busy cleaning his home when he caught a whiff of something in the air. Something pure. Something wonderful. Something that beckoned him to the out of doors.

It was spring.

Something above was calling him in the most demanding way, and he headed for
the steep little tunnel which was his house’s exit. He scraped and scratched, working
busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” until at last,
pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of
a great meadow.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Ah, I know little Mole’s desire to leave the confines of four walls and heed the call of spring.

The joy of living and the delight of spring made him jump into the
air…

I did my share of jumping today.

Well, maybe not jumping but I did take Harlee for what I’ll call a Farewell to Winter walk. We listened to the birds singing, checked out the little green shoots peeking out of the softening earth, peed on some of them (Harlee did the peeing, I stood and watched), and inhaled the scent of the approaching season.

Now I know that spring in New England isn’t all mild temperatures and sunshine.

March, 2020

But no matter, it’s still spring which means flowers are coming my way…

along with humidity, gnats, yellow jackets, and black flies… (I’m hyperventilating — give me a sec.)

Male Eastern Bluebird.

Ahhhhhh, bluebirds always calm my raging pulse.

Where was I? Oh, yes, spring, or for those of us who follow the craft, Ostara, the Vernal Equinox, a time for new beginnings.

Ways to celebrate Ostara include:

  • Starting seeds for a vegetable or flower garden
  • Feeding the birds
  • Buying a bouquet of flowers and giving them to an elderly neighbor
  • Taking a walk and looking for signs of spring
  • Baking an egg-based delight like Ostara cakes (see recipe below)
  • Meditating
  • Setting intentions for the season
  • Coloring eggs and sharing them with friends
  • Cleaning your living space
  • Stretching your arms and singing at the top of your lungs

There are loads of ways to celebrate. Let your imagination break free like pussy willows breaking out of their casings.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Truly, this is a time of year to celebrate. I know things are hard for so very many of us; we struggle with money issues, depression, illness, death…it can be too much to take sometimes. That’s why we need to stop and breath.

Stop and listen.

Stop and smell.

Stop and taste.

Stop and feel.

Stop and be here in the present moment, not tomorrow, not next week, but ‘now’.

Because ‘now’ is all we have.

I’ll share a ‘now’ moment with you. While walking with Harlee I kept my ears open for the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. You see, it’s been 10 years since I’ve seen a Pileated and last week, when Harlee and I were walking on Old Middlesex Turnpike, we saw a Pileated banging at a dead pine tree in the woods. I hadn’t had my camera with me so I missed out on getting a picture. but I had it with me today and I was determined to get a picture.

Sadly, no luck.

No Pileated Woodpecker.

No biggie.

The day moved forward and I worked at cleaning the leaves and sticks from my gardens and sighing with delight at the sight of the new growth I uncovered.

peony bush
Look! The pink growth of peonies!

While I had my focus on the ground guess what happened?

Yup, the Pileated Woodpecker came to me!!

I ran into the house and…

Male Pileated Woodpecker.

I finally got my picture.

I know it’s not the best picture, give me a break; he was up in a very tall tree (30 feet or so) and my hands were shaking (not from excitement but because I had been raking for a couple of hours). Who cares, right? I got a picture and he stayed around for a bit, showing off his dope red feather cap.

So cool.

Here’s a link to Cornell’s info on Pileated Woodpeckers.

Sooooo very cool.

Aside from some computer issues this was a pretty dope first day of Spring.

Here’s the Ostara recipe I promised you. Enjoy!

Oh, and one more thing.

Shhhhh.

Listen.

Do you hear them?

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration-spring-2022-map.htm

Here they come!

Ahhhhhh.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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May You Soar Like an Eagle

But make sure you also know how to swim.

Two Bald Eagles stopped by for a little duck hunting. One sat in the tree…

Possibly the female Eagle waiting for the male to catch her a fat duck for breakfast.

… and the other eagle, I’m assuming the male, went for a swim in the cold waters of the Concord River.

American Bald Eagle in the Concord River.

Upon emerging from the river, the Eagle said he’d had enough with doing his mate’s bidding, shook off the frigid droplets, and hit the air.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Eventually, the female followed, leaving behind a Red-Tailed Hawk who was wondering where the scraps of duck meat went.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Cool, I whispered, grateful I had been sitting at the table getting ready to start on my morning cup of coffee.

What, I wondered, would the rest of the day bring?

Well, hello!

A Carolina Wren visited the top of my oak slag (the tree I had topped) and sang a tune to welcome the day.

Carolina Wren

Bring it on, I told the day. I’m ready for more.

More, as in a pair of Common Mergansers sunning themselves on the ice edging the river.

More, as in a male Northern Pintail hanging with the Mallards.

Male Northern Pintail

And more, as in a male Eastern Bluebird choosing my mealworms for his and his alone. Okay, maybe not all for him; he does share with the female who travels with him.

Male Eastern Bluebird.
Female Eastern Bluebird

And do you remember this Mallard hen from September, 2021? Humor me, just nod and smile, even if you forgot.

Mallard hen with a white apron.

Well, she came back to say hello. At this point she deserves a name. Let’s call her Hazel.

This blog post wouldn’t be finished if I didn’t mention the incredible sunrise the universe granted me.

A glorious sunrise on the Concord River.

Yup, it was a day to remember.

Blessed be.

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Acres of Diamonds

A farmer heard stories of fortune by other farmers who had discovered diamonds on their land and became rich beyond their wildest imagination. The farmer became discontented with his own life and desperately desired the same fortune. He eventually sold his farm and left his family to begin a quest for land that would lead him to riches. He searched through many lands far and wide. Eventually as an old man he became depressed and despondent. He threw himself into a great tidal wave to his death, never to be seen again.

The successor of his land, another farmer, one day strolled along a creek that ran through the property. He noticed a blue flash from the creek bed, knelt down and sifted through the water until he pulled a crystal object from the mud of the creek. He wiped it off, took it home and left it on his mantel above the fireplace, where he quickly forgot about it.

Several weeks later, a visitor stopped by the farmer and noticing the crystal on the mantle picked it up. Instantly he became excited, he was holding a diamond in his hand. The farmer protested at first and the visitor reassured him that it was indeed a diamond. That farm eventually became one of the largest diamond-mines in the world. Had the original owner of the farm simply known how to identify and look for diamonds, he would have had the fortune he so desperately wanted.

Or something like that.

The above story is thought to be true. One never knows; at times truth and fiction merge, forming a blending of half-truths and dreams. However, the moral of the story remains the same: Everything is right at your feet, as long as you’re able to recognize that which you desire, and you have the right tools with which to dig.

Pussy Willow said it best: Everything that anyone would ever look for is usually where they left it.

Pussy Willow by Margaret Wise Brown

Or something like that.

Basically, the grass is only greener elsewhere because it’s receiving better care. Tend to your own fields and you may discover diamonds, which is exactly what happened to me the other day.

My story goes as follows:

Back when the Blizzard of 2022 dumped a foot of snow on my little corner of the Concord River my new, let me emphasize the word NEW, snow blower bit the dust, or, in this case, snow. I was left having to use my snow shovel and elderly muscles to clear the 12 inches of snow covering my driveway.

February arrived with more snow. Eight inches, instead of the two inches forecasted.

No biggie, my trusty snow shovel was ready and waiting.

The perfect tool to use when digging for diamonds.

So there I was, in the early morning light, shoveling the snow as the birds sang and flitted about, and the ducks quacked loudly for me to hurry up and finish what I was doing so I could feed them. I took a break in the cold, morning air to watch the sunrise.

I inhaled the cold morning air and marveled at the beauty before me when two American Bald Eagles flew low over the frozen river.

Wow!

WOW!

How’s that for a field of diamonds?

American Bald Eagle on the Concord River

You would think, since I had my phone out to take a picture of the sunrise, I could have captured the eagles in flight but, nope, I was too busy whispering a prayer of thanks to my Goddess.

I am blessed.

This time last year I did manage to photograph a pair of eagles playing in the water of my river.

Mr. and Mrs. American Bald Eagles Circa 2021.

Yup, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky and I’ve seen eagles fly.

I am truly blessed.

So, that’s my story about my acre of diamonds called the Concord River.

Sing it, John.

https://JohnDenver.lnk.to/subscribeYD SME (on behalf of RCA Records Label)

Who needs a snow blower?

Blessed be.

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Imbolc 2022

Welcome, Imbolc 20222; Welcome, Brighid.

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Pronounced EE-molc, Imbolc, which loosely translated means ewe’s milk or in the belly, is the celebration of light and the return of life, representing the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. For those of us following the pagan path, Imbolc is the first day of spring, the day the Celtic goddess Brighid (pronounced Breed) wakes from her winter slumber. For half the year she’s been living in the underworld, perhaps knitting scarves or darning socks, but her return is the transformation from the crone of winter to the maiden of spring, and the beginning of new life. Imbolc is also the time when lambs give birth and their milk starts to flow, which ties in nicely with the whole ewe’s milk translation.

Imbolc dates back to early 10th century in the British Isles, pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland to be exact.. Back when online shopping wasn’t a thing and gardening catalogues hadn’t happened yet. All the people had to help them mark the seasons were the sun and moon, and lactating ewes.

Christians adopted Imbolc, changed the day by one, called it Candlemas, and bingo, a new saint, St. Brigid, was given to the people of the land as a replacement for the pagan goddess, Brighid. According to author Patti Wigington, “When Ireland converted to Christianity, it was hard to convince people to get rid of their old gods, so the church allowed them to worship the goddess Brighid as a saint – thus the creation of St. Brigid’s Day.” Here’s an interesting tidbit, the perpetual flame burning in most early Christian churches is likened to goddess Brigid’s fire.

As time passed a groundhog found his way in the mix and we got Groundhog Day.

No, not that Groundhog Day.
Yup, that one.

Honoring Brighid includes the lighting of fires, or white candles, and celebrating the sun’s rays, which can include perusing plant catalogues.

https://www.bluestoneperennials.com/

At present time I have over $300 worth of plants in my virtual shopping cart. OMG!

You can also make a milk-based foods. Say, for example, baked custard.

Baked-egg-custard-ramekin

Baked Custard

Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cup cold evaporated skim milk (or regular whole milk if you’re not counting Calories)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and beat for about 15 seconds, or until well mixed. Pour mixture into ramekins or custard cups. Place the ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with hot water up to a depth of about ¾”. Bake the custards for one hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Dust with nutmeg before serving.

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who follow the wheel of the seasons don’t need a groundhog (though they are very cute) to know the sun is returning to bring warmth to us once again. A few buds might be seen on the trees and, if there wasn’t a foot of snow on the ground, one might see some crocus flowers as well. Alas, today the goddess is wearing a cloak of winter white instead of her vibrant green.

One common Imbolc ritual is a deep cleansing of the body and home and an offering of milk, to represent the awakening seeds. I won’t lie and write that my house is clean but at least I can attest to the clean skin. Hopefully Brigid is forgiving and will accept my white candles, dirty kitchen floor, and offering of cracked corn. At least the ducks were grateful.

Blessed Imbolc to you and may the seeds of spring grow in your heart. Blessed be :]

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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