January, 2020–Wildfires, pandemics, impeachment hearings–it’s hard to be optimistic these days.
But the latest snow event didn’t turn into a three-day blizzard. And so far, no deep freeze and polar vortex, like last year. If the sidewalks are still treacherous with ice, it’s not as bad as it could be.
January can be tough. The coldest temperatures recorded in Chicago have occurred in January. There have been historic blizzards. Is it enough to know that longer days are coming, in fact they are already here? Already 40 more minutes of daylight since the winter solstice!
At the beginning of February, we are halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. On the old Celtic calendar, this is known as a cross-quarter day. They called it Imbolc. Now people call it Groundhog Day.
Yes, I celebrate Groundhog Day. No, I’m not going to Woodstock, IL or Punxsutawney PA. where they make a big deal about the groundhog and his shadow.
Do you know why the groundhog seeing his shadow means 6 more weeks of winter? The sky would be clear and sunny. A cold winter day. An overcast day would be warmer, perhaps a sign of an early spring thaw, before the vernal equinox.
The day we call Groundhog Day goes way back, when people felt more of a connection to the natural world. About this time of year, birds and animals–including possums, badgers, rabbits and groundhogs–become more active as the worst of the cold and dark has passed.
Yes, there’s plenty of cold weather left. But we are halfway through astronomical winter. Use the cheerful graphic above from the National Weather Service to guide you in dressing for the days to come. Lighter days are coming. Spring is coming. Celebrate the falling snow, and how beautiful, the melting!