Winter Solstice: Spring waters move

July 6th, 2012
by Jo Law

Perhaps it’s the warm sun on the back deck, perhaps it’s the steady regaining of health, in this pentad I sense the ascendency of the yang as suggested by the Chinese Almanac. The passing of this winter solstice has made a strong impression on me this year. Re-reading entires from East Wind Melts the Ice, I am reminded by Liza Dalby that in the northern hemisphere, the Gregorian calendar begins a new year shortly after the shortest day. Perhaps it is not so inappropriate a time for a new beginning.

The practice of phenology (not to be confused with phrenology) is the observation of notable cyclical behaviour in plants and animals as influenced by seasonal changes. Phenological study often notes the first instance of a seasonal occurrence. These records provide an informative source that supplements data in gauging long-term climatic variations. Descriptive accounts like Aldo Leopold’s A Sandy County Almanac also make pleasurable reading.

In our own backyard, rainbow lorikeets and golden wattle birds busy themselves drinking nectar from the fully ladden Camellia japonica; the tree leisurely sheds its blossoms whole, once again laying a delicate carpet of pink. The camellia closest to the back of the house are covered with bulging round red buds, awaiting their turn to burst forth. Elsewhere plants seem quiet and dormant, but if one really looks, one will notice that on every tip of each white cedar branch are tiny suggestions of new budding leaves. The chickens have once again begin their lay, albeit a little irregularly.

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