Groundhog's Day. Candlemas. Imbolc. Tu b'Shevat/New Year for Trees.
By whatever name we call it, today, tomorrow, and this week, we notice a subtle shift in the light. It is a lighter earlier in the morning, and a bit later in the afternoon.
It is still definitely winter here in the Sandia High Country, and snow lies under the trees, though we've had warmer days of late.
But evidence that Old Man Winter is on the way out is everywhere.
Here, the Groundhog's sunrise has shifted north, and for the next week or so, it will shift north by one solar diameter per day.
On the Winter Solstice the sunrise from this spot could be seen at the top of the road to the right of where it rose over the trees this morning.
And here, at the top of Via Sedillo, the sunrise over the Estancia basin is also north and closer to the lone Pinyon Pine than it was on the Solstice.
In the old calendar, today would have been the beginnning of spring, as the seasons were counted from the Cross-Quarters.
The European Candlemas, the American Groundhog's Day are on February 2, a fixed date on the solar calendar. But this year the Cross-Quarter Day is actually tomorrow, February 3, at 9:45 AM MST, which corresponds to 16:45 Greenwich Mean Time (UT).
Here, more evidence of the shift in the light is seen as the sunrise moves down Pinos Altos.
During the day, the slight change in the solar angle is becoming more apparent.
All of these changes tell us deep down inside our brains that, just as sap rises in the trees, the new wine of the new year for trees, so the energy that ebbed so in December begins to rise within us again.
I hear that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and retreated back to his burrow.
Winter will be prolonged according to legend.
And this indeed has been a long one already.
But the changes in the light, the return of birds here in our mountains, all are messengers that spring is coming, the tipping point has been reached, the season must change, even if the weather remains wintry for a while longer.
Even in hard times.
And in hard times, how much more needful it is that we stop and rejoice at these small signs of the coming thaw.