GetOut! Celebrate Imbolc with a search for spring

Do you know what Tuesday (February 2, so you don’t run off searching for a calendar) was? 

Imbolc, the pagan observance that celebrates the midpoint of winter and thus, the beginning of the official watch for spring.

We celebrated by hiking along the Eno in search of early signs of the season. To us, that generally means sighting the first spring wildflower — the spring beauty or trout lily — maybe hearing the first spring peeper. With temperatures content to not rise out of the 40s for much of January, it was a search, we were sure, was in vain. 

But as the accompanying video shows, we did have success, or at least partial success. A mile and a half down the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, hiking upstream from the Pump Station Access, we saw daffodil leafs pushing out of the frigid ground. We say “partial success,” because, 1) the daffodil is not a native plant (it’s a sturdy perennial planted by early homesteaders to spruce up the place in the waning days of winter), and 2) it had yet to flower.

But it was close. So close, that with a day or three of 50-degree weather and a spot of sunshine (as is forecast for Saturday), we suspect they will bloom.

Our thoughts on the subject:

  • Eno River Association Winter Hike Series, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2 p.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. As luck would have it, this week’s ERA winter hike is on the very same trail we trod on Imbolc. Hitch your spring-seeking wagon to this horse (actually, an accomplished naturalist) and you’ll up your odds of finding spring this weekend. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Biological Wonderland Hike, Saturday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m., Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. You know how fall color cascades down the mountains, from higher elevations to lower? Conversely, spring begins showing itself first at lower, warmer elevations, and you can’t get much lower than Carolina Beach. This hike on the Flytrap Trail is handicap accessible. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Woodcock Walk, Saturday, Feb. 6, 4:30-6 p.m., Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle. This event is pegged less to spring than to the end of winter, when the woodcock’s “sky dance” occurs. According to the event description: “The males take center stage and put on an aerial performance to impress the females.” Typical. Learn more and sign up here.

Those are our thoughts for the weekend. In the spirit of Imbolc, GetOut!

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