The cross quarter day of February 2nd is simultaneously known as Groundhog Day, Candlemas, Bridget’s Day, and Imbolc. It is called a “cross- quarter day” because it lies approximately half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox – two of the four quarter days which describe the Sun’s journey through the year.
In our culture Groundhog Day gets the most attention and therefore is perhaps the best known of these festivals. Groundhog Day has its roots in German tradition and was brought to this continent by German immigrants who settled in, among other places, Pennsylvania. We all know the story: A rodent comes out of its hole; if it’s sunny, he sees his shadow, runs back into his hole and we have six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy. he is less skittish and stays out to nibble a little grass and then winter is over. Unlike groundhog Day, Candlemas is primarily a Christian festival celebrating both the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Purification of the Virgin. These two unrelated festivals are imaginatively united in the poem
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again
Bridget’s Day and Imbolc are both pagan festivals of Celtic origin, Bridget’s Day being the celebration of Bridget, the goddess of the threshold (a day that has since been Christianized by calling it Saint Bridget’s). Imbolc which loosely translates as ewe’s milk was traditionally the beginning of lambing season and hence the ewes were first coming into their lactation period. It was also a day for blessing seeds and farm tools. In some areas of old England it was the first day of plowing and a time to decide when and what to plant.
I am inspired to relate this February 2nd cultural history lesson because it is at this time of year – early to mid February – when, as a farmer and as someone whose life is so intimately entwined with quarter and cross-quarter days, I begin to imagine the coming growing season. Already, the increasing length of daylight hours is clearly noticeable, and perhaps it is this change in light which inspires me to begin making plans for the approaching season of growth – anticipating planting dates, taking stock of the condition of equipment and tools, ordering seeds, preparing the greenhouse, and even paying attention to the predictions of rodents.
This is also the time of year when I reach out to last year’s participants, encouraging you to once again join us at Hope’s Edge Farm for another season of fresh, healthy, delicious, beautiful and hopefully bountiful produce and flowers. The feedback from last season was, without exception, positive, and we hope to have the opportunity to please your pallet and senses again in 2012. Some of you have already committed to another season by making a deposit last fall. But whether you have made a deposit or not, now is the time to purchase a share for 2012. We hope that many of you will be returning and will remain a part of the Hope’s Edge Farm CSA community for another season.
Click here to download our 2012 CSA brochure, or use the printed brochure. You need only fill out the form and return it to the address indicated with full or partial payment. Then patiently wait until the quarter day on June 20th, the Summer Solstice, for the strawberries, lettuce, scallions, spinach, and peas that mark the beginning of another growing year. Till then, stay warm, stay safe, and many Candlemas blessings on you and yours.
Your Farmer, Tom