The day after Imbolc I ran (I run for sport) to my usual prayer spot. It is fairly close to where I love, a place popular among recreational walkers, geese and herons. The spot lies beside the river Leij, which used to be a tiny little stream, but a few years back they dug out the river bed to create an area of wetlands. Even though it is not a very secluded place, it is very sacred to me. There is a dead tree which is rather skewed, so I can lean onto it. This is the place where I say my prayers. It is my place of retreat.
I ran for about half an hour and that came to this place, which still wants for a good name. At the moment I call it Birds’ Playground.
As it had rained for more than 24 hours straight, I found it flooded.
Last week the Dutch remembered the Great Flood of 1953, probably our biggest natural disaster in which more than 1500 people drowned. At the same time the water level had risen again – which is not unusual this time of year – due to strong rainfall and a very powerful Western wind, which made sure that the water could go only land-inwards and up. I do not live very close to the Northern Sea, but my little river was also not very little any more.
Bird’s Playground two weeks ago
Birds’ Playground Today
Yes that is my lean tree. The path and snowy fields in the second picture were also completely flooded and impossible to reach as I wore my airy running shoes. (I shot this picture a day later). The whole setting reminded my of Boann, She who caused the well of Wisdom to surge and overflow, turning it into river, and thus spreading the gifts of the well. She is also the mother of Aengus, a god closely associated with both spring and water birds.
My socks were soaked through, and I had run through a hail shower before I got to this place. Still, my fate was a lot better than that of Boann herself. And the geese were having great fun, making my tentative name for the place quite apt.
This is what Imbolc is often like in The Netherlands (quite literally the low lands). I said my prayers, to different gods than I had planned – Boann seeing a more natural choice than a goddess of dry plains and horses – , and went home. My run would have to be my main offering. The floods are not a sure sign of spring to come. It may still snow this month. And temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius (40 Fahrenheit) still make for some chilly afternoons. And almost no flowers dare popping out their heads.
But I did hear birdsong, birdsong I hadn’t heard in four months, produced by a handful of tomtits, until loud-mouthed walkers scared them away (and pissed me off). And my heart flustered. Maybe the swans and herons will soon to geese and tomtits at play.