I don't suppose it will be long before there will be nobody still alive up here who can remember the days before electric lighting. Because there are so many remote farms around here electric light was very late coming to them and they had to make do with candle power. I think that is why so many farming families got up with the sun and went to bed when it went down. On the occasions when we have had a power cut (we are on a separate line and it does occasionally give up the ghost in bad weather) I am always struck by how difficult it is to manage by candle power; romantic it might be but don't try to read any small print!
Today is Candlemas day - no longer of any importance - but there was a time when this was not so. Before the days of electric light this was traditionally the day when all the candles needed for the church in the coming year, were blessed - hence Candle Mass.
I didn't realise until somebody on TV pointed it out yesterday, it is exactly half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox so is seen as absolute mid winter. I know it was an important day on the farm because that was when the farmer checked his supplies to make sure he had half of them left. There is a folk lore poem:
A farmer should on Candlemas day
have half his corn and half his hay.
It was apparently also the day when if you had forgotten to take down your Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night you could legitimately take them down. As Robert Herrick says in the poem Candlemas Eve
Down with rosemary and bay,
down with mnistletoe.
Instead of holly now upraise
the greener box for show.
Today we have had about five inches of snow and the weather is a mixture of beautiful sunshine and white-out blizzards. So there is one Candlemas saying that cheers me up:-
If Candlemas be fine and sunny there's a lot more winter to come.
If it be bad weather then the worst is over.
Not sure where that leaves us as the day is a mixture of both.!
You will see from the photograph that Tess enjoys the snow.
On a completely different note. Poet in Residence has been talking a lot lately about haiku and haikutrios - and has now added an extra element of trying to include the same word in each stanza of the trio. I struggled with this and even asked him to help by supplying a word. But he quite rightly, said I had to find the word from my own experience. So here is my first effort.
The Waiting Game.
The yellow aconite
waits for the warm sun to shine
to raise up its head.
All the brown earth waits
for the faint stirring of Spring
to throw up its seed.
But the sharp, green nettle
pushing through the dead, brown grass
waits for nothing!
Happy Candlemas everyone - just give Michael Farraday a thought when you switch on your light.