Paul Simons's W eather Eye in today's Times tells me that today is Candlemas - or if I lived in the U S - Groundhog Day. These old milestones in the year always have a grain of truth in them and I must say that quite often the farmer seems to take more notice of these things than he does of weather forecasts.
My father-in-law, who spent every meal time at the same chair in the kitchen, a chair with a look out directly to the West, would predict the coming of rain by whether or not it was 'black over Zebra', Zebra being a hill with three conifers on the top which he could see from his chair. Well, he was looking directly to the West and most of our wet weather comes from the West, so more than a grain of truth there.
The folklore says, 'If Candlemas Day be fair and bright/Winter will have another flight/If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain/Winter is gone and will not come again. All I can say is that today it has been sunny, bright and absolutely bitterly cold. And the little bit of remaining snow is hanging about - another bit of folklore suggests that if it does this it is waiting for more to join it.
Simons tells how when the European settlers arrived in the US they looked to the Groundhog to give them an indication of how the weather was progressing, hence the term Groundhog Day.
But one fact is interesting. Candlemas or Groundhog Day - whichever you care to call it - marks the absolute halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. For the next three months the energy will grow stronger and the hours of sunlight will increase. And as so manyof us over here in the UK have had snow, let's take comfort from another old saying - 'Much February snow a fine summer doth show' - now that I really do want to believe in.