Monday, February 2, 2009


It is both Candlemas and Groundhog day, and you can take it from me that the signs are very auspicious – at any rate, if you live in the south-east of England they are, and if you don’t then I have it on good authority that all you need to do is change the name of the place where you are living and it will all come right. For there is thick snow on the ground and the slow, white stuff has been falling all day. Everything has ground to a halt, as it does in sweet Albion whenever there is anything that one might call weather happening. So people don’t go to work or school or anywhere, unless there is a dire emergency like running out of milk for one’s essential caffe latte or to get a copy of the Guardian newspaper (the latter is Mr. Signs’ emergency, for the sport and crossword pages wait for no man). According to a commentator on radio 4, people are out having fun in parks with sledges, throwing snowballs or just chilling warmly at home and we need more days like this (says the commentator) because we are completely losing the plot in terms of work/life balance and becoming a nation of dull and stressed-out Jacks and Jills. Be that as it may, my life dances to a different drum beat so a bit of weather doesn’t particularly affect me personally, other than worrying about children of Signs having enough winter thermals and son’s bicycle slipping on the ice.

I had planned, though, to get a few things done today and stuff printed off, put in an envelope and posted. But today was migrainey – not quite the same as full-blown migraine but a kind of weaker, younger sister of the real thing. So a nothing-very-much day, other than looking from my bed at the snow that kept falling on the rooftops and swirling around the trees; and thinking about how auspicious it all was because:

If candlemas day be fair and bright,
winter will take another flight;
if candlemas day be cloud and rain,
winter is gone and will not come again

(If I had changed “rain” to “snow” it would not have rhymed).

I have been given a particularly dense and fragrant beeswax candle by the ancient woman who is the nearest I have to a godmother and looks like Mother Holle herself. I will be lighting it.


Zhoen said...

Sorry about the migrainey thing, been there. But the slow-snow day sounds wonderful.

If the Groundhog sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, it'll be another month and a half.

trousers said...

I too am hoping that the migraine hasn't troubled you to an untoward degree.

It may (or may not) be interesting that I raised an eyebrow, given your statement that the weather doesn't affect you personally.

This is, of course, based entirely upon my own assumptions, therefore little need be made of it (and what can be made of a raised eyebrow after all?).

But, for the sake of academic reasons: raking through those assumptions, I would have assumed that you would have welcomed the snow, given that it resembles proper winter weather, and requires a certain degree of coldness as commensurate with the season.

Please feel free not to respond to this, based on what it is, and whom it says more about (ie me). Whatever, I certainly agree that we need more days like this.

Collin Kelley said...

The photos of the snow across England have been beautiful. Wish I could be there to make some snow angels.

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, the groundhog wouldn't have been able to see a trace of shadow yesterday. Today he would see it very clearly as tis very sunny.

I think the Trouserian eyebrow was appropriately raised for you are quite right - I simply love winter in winter, and it still is that, so by my reckoning all is right with the world. I only meant it doesn't really affect the rhythm of my day - though that is perhaps not quite accurate because the seasonal changes do affect that. Well done, Herr Hosen, we need to lift our voices up in the midst of those who insist that winter is awful.

Collin, the nicest snow sculpture I saw was that of a man sitting on a park bench. He will still be there today.

Montag said...

Good description of a snowy day; I can almost feel the lassitude and languor of it all: the inertia of winter which cements you to that place by the fire, waiting for another cup of tea and a sweet, wondering which book to read next.

So, answer me this: is the reference to Mother Holle not only to the elder female chandler, but also to the snowy weather?
As the Germans said: It is snowing. Hulda (or Holle) is making her bed.
...or flouncing her duvet
...or shaking the feather bed.

Reading the Signs said...

well Montag, Hulda and Frau Holle may be one and the same person. When she shakes her bedding out the snow falls down to earth. Sometimes people pass through her realm and are frightened by the look of her and her long teeth, but she is kind so long as one is not lazy. If you shake her bedding well she will reward you with gold, if you can't be bothered to do that she covers you in pitch.

Kahless said...

We have some snow up north; I wish for more!

It is picture postcard though isnt it?

Anonymous said...

I think the cold does that to your head. There should be an ME hat - big and furry, maybe in a nice blue, with ear flaps and an internal heater. With a hint of menthol.

Reading the Signs said...

Me too, Kahless, I love it. And everyone I met today looked happy despite the inconvenience.

Hi Petal - if you mean the migrainey headache, the cold doesn't do that to me. I'm more likely to be bothered by very hot weather.

I really like the cold snaps. I seem to find myself saying this rather a lot.

trousers said...

Your very generous reply made me smile, signs - I'd written that comment under the influence of alcohol, and was labouring to try and make sure it didn't sound too cheeky!

Reading the Signs said...

If that's you being cheeky, Trousers, you are always welcome chez Signs when under the affluence of incohol.

More winter on the way!

north said...

have been turning fifty and off to the big city having party and cake and hotel and champagne and drizzle - alas no snow in the north! love your writing as always and ever and looking forward to writing with you - happy Candlemas