View from Mattie’s Pillow

 

Groundhog Day and the temperature is sinking again, though there’s more light, brighter sun to give the illusion of approaching–so far away–spring.

The horses, the dog, and everyone I know are getting restless with the return of deep cold. Every afternoon around 4, as the sun slips behind the hill and the corral sits in pale blue light, Mattie and Sam play a game where they walk around their fenced areas (they each have half a corral, separated by metal portable panels) until they meet at the fence. The first one to reach the fence stretches his or her head over the top rail, open mouthed to nip at the neck or rump of the other. If the first horse makes contact, the other kicks at the fence, making a satisfying crash, then they both trot away, circling back at a canter and crow hopping till they get back to the fence where they go back to an oh-so-casual walk. I watched them do this for a half hour today.

The groundhogs didn’t agree on spring, I hear, and one even bit the mayor of New York on the hand. In another blog, I found a history of the holiday, Candlemas, a vague predictor of spring–but like the celebration of the solstice, an important marker for our hopes. I remember spring in Pennsylvania, growing up. About now, the ground would still be frozen, but towards the end of the month, it would tend toward mud. By March, there would be green in the lawns and pastures, and crocuses, with daffodils and tulips not far behind.

But here, spring is an abstract concept. In six weeks, mid-March, we will be nearly in the same light cycle as anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. For a few weeks, we all feel in synch with the places in the lower 48 many of us grew up in, except for the deep snow, the continuing cold, the possibility that we could still hit 30 below. Still the light glitters off the long-frozen crystals, birds flit between the trees, or cluster around the birch seed dusting the white ground, the ice carvers arrive for the annual competition, and the long-distance mushers return from the Yukon Quest, scraggly-bearded, hollow-eyed, triumphant, and ready to go out again.

But knowing that, somewhere, real groundhogs stir beneath the corn fields, imagining green shoots, gives me permission to look at seed catalogs for real and to imagine, again, what luscious things could grow in our short, intense season.

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3 Responses to “View from Mattie’s Pillow”

  1. glow Says:

    MP–thanks for the hope of spring. I liked the PA groundhog stories that were here earlier. Or did I just imagine them, like I’m imagining what spring sunlight might feel like on my skin? 🙂

  2. glow Says:

    Oh! found the stories below! So glad they are still here. I’ve shared this blog with a friend from NC who is a horse, dog, AND sun lover.

  3. mattiespillow Says:

    Hi, Glow–Maybe you were looking for them while I was editing out typos. Thanks for your comments. It’s good to know someone’s reading these posts. I’ll post more of the horse chapters as I write them, especially parts that excerpt easily.

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