Whether you note Candlemas or Groundhog Day or any other festival around the beginning of February, all of them represent a mid-winter tipping point, when we've definitely made it through more than half, and can start looking forward to spring. Up here in the north, we know that's a pretty far look into the distance, but it's still real: the days may be super-cold still, but it's brighter and the light lasts longer.
Liturgically, Candlemas is a day when the next year's candles are blessed -- this past Sunday the whole congregation processed around the dark cathedral carrying lighted tapers -- and it occurs forty days after Jesus' birth, marking the required time when a Jewish first-born son would have been presented in the temple. It's the official end of the Christmas season, when we start looking instead toward Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter.
I marked the day at home by burning all the leftover holly and evergreens in the fireplace, and putting away the Christmas cards, after making the drawing above. The lovely print of a Madonna and Child is by Natalie d'Arbeloff; the cards are in a Mexican palm-leaf basket, and that's a volcanic rock in the left foreground, not a hunk of cheese or bread!
In other news, last weekend a feature article about my husband Jonathan and his new book appeared in the local paper, the Valley News, back where we used to live. The article includes an excellent portrait of him and a number of photographs from his book, many of which were taken in that area of Vermont and New Hampshire in the late 60s and early 70s. Although that was a few years before we actually met, the article has quite a lot in it about our later life there, so I thought some of you might be interested in the link.