You can feel it happening. The forces are gathering, straining at the bonds of ice and snow, beginning to flex their muscles. The cottonwoods are sprouting, their branch tips swollen with brown green buds, spear tips in the sky. Not to be outdone, the aspens, alders and willows are doing the same.
There is a great tension in the air. Huge blocks of ice along the riverbanks give evidence of overflows during the deep dark nights of January. Now they are shifting, melting a little during the longer warm afternoons before being plunged back into the freeze during the clear cold nights.
No matter. Orion has arrived, riding high in the early evening sky. The warrior giant is leading the Sun’s march back into the temperate zone, his sword vibrating with the energies of the great nebula.
Not to be outdone, the moon rises, its full searchlight power illuminating the snow crystals, outlining the pines along the ridge. It is then that the chaotic cracks in the fractured ice can be seen, exposing the black water below. As the ice continues to crack and crumble, it squeaks and groans, the noise of the death rattle that signals the transformation taking place.
Some cultures used to celebrate the new year beginning on the spring equinox, not the winter solstice. In many ways this makes sense. It is in this time of balance between the forces of dark and light that the energies begin to shift. The power of light and warm begins to overpower the congealed substance of winter.
Starting in the low in the valley, then moving slowly upslope, the crackling energy of spring is felt deeply by all of us here in the Precipice. As the days continue to lengthen the faint promise first made in late December begins to take shape, manifesting itself in an infinite variety of forces, subtle yet undeniable. Hopes soar along with the liquid call of the newly arrived Redwing blackbird, a solitary outrider, showing this year’s path for the flock to follow.
These beginnings are just the opening scene in the vibrant pageant that will play out during the festival of spring.