Winter is late this year. The snowdrops have decided it's not coming. A snowy owl irruption reached as far south as Missouri. A whooping crane family went north from the Cheyenne Bottoms a month early. The geese are flying east and west and all agley.
Late winter is my favorite time of year. By the middle of February — sooner this year — the snowdrops are in bloom. If you peek under the mulch and leaves along the paths, you will see crocus and daffodils putting up shoots. Forsythia has buds along its branches. Hellebores send up new foliage. Last week I spent a couple of afternoons outside in the sun. One little bee came hunting the snowdrops, a single veil-winged melissa scouting the earliest pollen for her queen.
Tolkien called this the season of Stirring. Winter has held off for so long now that it will mingle with spring. Last weekend a half-inch snowfall clung to the branches until the morning sun melted it away. Today the sun is shining in defiance of predictions, but a cold front is on the way. The first real snow may fall by Monday.
The days are lengthening, and the bees are working no matter what. Somewhere the mysterious cave of the Great Mother hums with priestesses feeding honey to a newborn god.