"The wind moved like the wake of a massive beast through the city..."
At the end of January, I wrote:
The month ended with a spell of 40-degree weather blown through the dirty streets by fierce and unpredictable gusts of wind. The city looked its worst: piles of half-melted snow and ice covered with dirt and cinders vie for visual prominance with the detritus revealed underneath by their retreat. Everyone's in a bad mood, or sick -- hacking in the buses and sneezing on the streets as they pass you, merci beaucoup. The hockey rinks lay fallow, full of water reflecting the bare branches above, and ringed with people's cast-off Christmas trees. Children trudge to school, heads down, still swaddled in pink and blue snowsuits. There's no rejoicing, no unseasonable outdoor cafe-sitting as there will be in March; we all know it's a trick: real winter will be back, and soon.
It came the very next day, with the temperatures hurtling down into the single digits, and the wind, now viciously cold, chilling faces and hands the minute we stepped out the door.
There are bright spots, though, even as we hunker down for the final long slog through the next six or eight weeks, the long days of Lent, the inevitable winter storms. Florist windows are full of creative arrangements: tightly packed red roses in unusual vases, the first sight of primroses and daffodils. Ash Wednesday is right around the corner, but that means Easter will be early this year. This week's thaw finally melted through the thick, treacherous sidewalk ice, sothat there are long bare stretches of pavement, making the walking much easier. I sent in my annual garden inscription, and got a note from the chairman of our jardin communautaire: it won't be that long before the sap starts running in the maples, and it will be time to start seeds, place orders, and think about growing things again.
In spite of the ridiculous length of Canadian winters, I always feel like we've cleared a hurdle when January is finally over. It always feels like a long month, and a rather grim one. This past Sunday was Candlemas, that ancient pagan holiday appropriated by the early British Christians; we blessed the year's liturgical candles, and gave thanks for the light, and - with the groundhogs - took a symbolic step toward spring. For the first time in ages, I left the cathedral after Evensong in brightness rather than gloom, and the light in the sky lasted all the way home.