Today is Imbolc, a traditional pagan festival that falls midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. It signifies the promise of Spring, the start of the planting season,
the beginning of the lambing season. It is also known as Brigid's Day. Brigid is an important Celtic Goddess of fertility, healing and poetry. And within the Christian Church, Saint Brigid is a patron Saint of Ireland and, amongst other things, has been credited with initiating the tradition of women proposing to men on the in leap years, by perportedly proposing to St. Patrick (who sadly declined her offer). The word 'Imbolc' is thought to be derived from the Irish word 'I mbolg', meaning "in the belly". In the garden snowdrops, helebores, and winter jasmine have started to flower, but most plants are still dormant, so it's heart-warming to remember that underfoot, in the dark, moist soil, things are starting to stir, seeds are germinating, life is quickening.
With Spring just around the corner, today I sowed my first seeds of the year, a handful of plump sweet peas, soaked for 48 hours, and hopefully on the brink of germination. As a person who appreciates cut-flowers, but struggles with the act of decapitating flowers in bloom, sweet peas are a relatively guilt-free option, because the more they are picked, the more flowers they produce. A posy of freshly-picked sweet peas can fill a room in moments with a sweet fragrance that lifts the spirits and a offers a sight that delights the eyes.