Controlling the weather is a dream as old as humanity itself. Once when I was fervently praying for a rain-free day as a child, my mother pointed out that other people could be praying for rain. I realized then that weather was a personalized preference and that, on some level, prayers cancel each other out. Well, it’s Groundhog Day and we’re all wondering whether those who love winter and want more or those who are ready for spring will prevail. For this we’ll rely on a woodchuck. The observation of animals for signs of spring seems to have been a germanic practice, and it could also involve badgers (which I’ve never, ever seen in the wild) or bears as well as groundhogs. The idea is that the majority are looking forward to spring when they can plant and grow food, hopefully enough to last through the next winter. And so the cycle goes.
We hear a lot about January as a month of transitions. It is, but so are they all. February, both the dead of winter and start of spring, provides variety as we continue the cycle. I’ve already seen my first robin of the year and I’ve been hearing sporadic bird song. The mating season, after all, comes around the middle of the month. According to some renditions of the Celtic calendar, Imbolc, which was yesterday, is the start of spring. Celebrated with fires to encourage the light and warmth, we know that cold and snow and wind chill still lie ahead. We are reminded, however, that this wheel is still turning. Slowly, slowly, but ever turning.
I’m writing this post before Punxsutawney Phil even awakes. The sky is dark and it’s cold outside. Like Phil Connors I’m thinking about how we want things to stay the same, but when they do they quickly haunt us. Time forever moves and all seasons are mere transitions to the next. In this endless cycle we have to come to appreciate where we are at the moment. There’s a stark beauty to winter. A snowy landscape can become a transport of rapture. We have to heat our houses, however, and pay the bills to do so. We keep our house cool enough that some days I just don’t have the heart to venture outside at all. Still, I wouldn’t change it. These cycles are old friends now. I’ll glance to the west and wonder what Phil might see, but I’ll be praying that we will never control the weather.