Monday, February 7, 2011


No spring cleaning. No serpents. Hell, there wasn't even a candle in sight on Candlemas. So much for plans.

The Sunday before our planned celebrations, I was out picking up some last minute items for our festivities and for the impending storm. My husband was set to leave on an out-of-town business trip for four days, so I was very careful to go through my stockpile and be sure that I had everything I could need. Going anywhere with four kids is a trial, but going anywhere in an ice storm with four kids is murder-suicide. As I was collecting our milk, I felt a familiar twang in my back. I barely made it home.

Usually when my back goes out (I have chronic pain issues after a tailbone injury sustained at a Chuck E. Cheese when I was 10), I rest for a couple of days, apply some heat, and I'm back to my old self. This time? More than a week later my back is still unbelievably tender.

I barely slept from Sunday to Wednesday because of the pain, but when I woke on the morn of Candlemas I was determined to push through it. The first order of business was to make my regular offering to the Cailleach, which is done at every snowfall from Samhain to the vernal equinox. I grabbed some liquor, her portion of the breakfast oatmeal, and some bird seed (uh, for the birds). One step outside my back door, and I landed flat on my back. There was a growing mantle of ice on each and every step, and though I was being careful, the weight of my offerings in one hand threw me off just enough to send me down the slippery slope. Considering that my husband was out of town I was lucky to get back into the house, frozen and bruised. (Don't worry, I did manage to hobble out to the Cailleach's preferred offering site.)

And that was it. That was my Candlemas. I'm counting my clattering bones hitting the hard-packed snow as my wake up call to the spring serpents. The household altar is still waiting for me to refresh it, but it's up high to keep prying little hands out of things, which means I have to stretch to reach it. That's still a bit too painful.

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