The snowdrops white flower heads are here, closed against the icy wind. The dark Hellebore flowers have just appeared and the other bulb's green shoots are nosing their way towards the light. Here in mid Sussex the sun is promising the warmth of spring whilst the north wind is keeping it's icy grip and the feeling is wintery. It is perfect Imbolc weather. The seed thought came to me yesterday morning as I rode through my local country lanes. These ancient lanes from the low Weald to the high Weald give mixed views of arable land, hedgerows and are interspersed with the narrowing vision when the sunken lanes are held deep within a tree lined tunnel. The leafless branches forming a lattice work overhead.
One of the nice things about a single-speed bicycle is that, when set up properly, they are almost silent. With gears, derailleurs and longer chains, comes flexibility and with it rattles and creaks. The tight chain line of the single geared bike has no sound. Just the occasional light clattering as it races down the pot holed, rough and loose tarmac of a downhill section. The silence of the bike gave space to hear the world, up some of the short, steep climbs of the high Weald the focus was internal - the beating of blood in my veins, the gasping for breath and the hammer of my ageing heart. On the flat all that could be heard was the whisper of my tyres, the bluster of the wind across the landscape and various songs from the birds. The bird song that reappears around Yule, having faded at Litha, now has more desire and urgency within it. Certainly not the full chorus that is here between Eostre and Beltaine but it brims full of the optimism that the returning sun brings.
In the narrow tree lined lanes, banked higher than my head with my eyes at root and burrow level I could reflect how nature rapidly breaks up mans effort to control the surface.
In the narrow lanes in this cauldron of silence, speared by the midday Imbolc sun and with the cleansing sword of an Arctic blast I could reflect upon the opening gateway to the year that is Imbolc.
I could travel in the peace of Frige
Then narrow lanes opened, revealing open countryside and the green walled vista of the South Downs and the warmth of home, the heat of the hearth and the love of my loved ones. Thankfully I could return there.