March 27, 2014

Winter to Spring: Snow Cover to Snowdrop Blooms




CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.


The WordPress weekly writing challenge for March 3, 2014, is threes:

write a post using three photographs for inspiration.

March 1, 2014

According to a Tribune-Review article This winter has been so bad, it’s spawned a whole new vocabulary to express the misery many persons (except winter sports enthusiasts):

  • The Weather Channel began naming winter storms and the term Polar Vortex entered normal conversation
  • …a pair of Midwestern meteorologists developed a way to measure winter’s severity—their Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, which ranks winters from category one (the least severe) to category five (the most severe).
    The meteorologists studied two dozen cities, using a combination of accumulated and daily snowfall and daily high and low temperatures to calculate the severity of winter weather, but exempts wind chill and ice storms.

Sadly, the big city of Pittsburgh, around which I’ve lived all but five years of my adult life, wasn’t one of the two dozen cities chosen for the study. To make amends, index co-creator (Steve Hilberg, a meteorologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the University of Illinois) crunched the Pittsburgh numbers.

And he declared the city had just edged into a category five winter.

March 1 in Moldovan

 March 1 is a national Moldovan holiday, a day when people present each other with the traditional flowers. One old Moldovan legend says that once in a fight with the winter witch, that didn’t want to give up its place, the beautiful lady Spring cut her finger and few drops of her blood fell on the snow, which melted. Soon on this place grew a snowdrop and in such a way the spring won the winter.

March 12, 2014

A late evening heavy snowfall amidst a few days hinting of spring, with temperatures reaching toward 500 F. Late in the evening it begins to snow. I quickly retrieve my camera and snap a photograph of the apple tree. The flash reveals the thousands—no, perhaps millions—of large snowflakes.

Looking closely at the picture later I wonder—could it be? Under the old apple tree? Could it be snowdrop stems attempting to reach through the snow blanket toward the stars?

IMG_3423E 140312

Snowdrops are a traditional flower for January. Native to Switzerland, Austria and of Southern Europe, its blooms look like drops of milk hanging from a stem—thus, its Latin name Galanthus, which means milk-white flowers.

In myth the snowdrop symbolizes promise—a promise to break winter’s spell and bring back spring. The snowdrop has a split reputation. The following tale tellw of its emblematic meaning of consolation/promise or death.
“When the first winter lay white upon the earth, Eve sorely missed the beautiful things of the fields. An angel who pitied her seized a flake of the driving snow and, breathing on it, bade it live, for her delight. It fell to the earth a flower, which Eve caught to her breast with gladness, for not only did it break the spell of winter, but it carried assurance of divine mercy. Hence the flower means consolation and promise.

March 16, 2014

No snow. Temperatures enable me to remove the purple and the blue Christmas bulbs from the outside shrubbery. A nice break from the continual phone calls in the wee hours of the morning, calls that inform me that the Ligonier Valley School district is indeed closing for the day due to the region’s severe winter weather.

Not today.

I step outside my back door, set my booted foot on the spring-muddy driveway, and walk to the apple tree. Yes, droplets of milky-white blossoms mark the arrival of spring.

Well, perhaps. Wishful thinking. Last year we had a late-April snowstorm.

It is the year’s earliest flowering bulb, are usually borne singly on stems that arch like they can’t handle the weight of the light blooms.

The snowdrop is variously known in England, France, Italy, and Switzerland as virgin flower, snow piercer, winter gallant, firstling, blackbird flower, little snow bell, little white bell, baby bell, spring whiteness, and white violet, bulbous violet,fair maid of February,Candlemas bells, Mary’s tapers.

Its scientific name is galanthus nivalis (nivalis is a Latin adjective, meaning ~relating to~ or ~resembling snow). It belongs to

  • Kingdom, Plantae
    Division Magnoliophyta
    Class liliopsida
    Family Amaryllidaceae
    Genus Galanthus (Greek in origin, the word signifies Milk white flower).

IMG_3463E 140316Years ago snowdrops were dried and transported to European shops from Turkey. Monks brought snowdrop bulbs from Rome to England and were the first to plant them around old monasteries. Because of this snowdrops became known as the church flower. Traditionally on Candlemas (Feb.2) the image of the Virgin Mary was taken down and a handful of snowdrop blooms were scattered in its place. Their presence in churchyards generated an unlucky reputation as time went on.

The following tales tell of its emblematic meaning of death.
When Kerma, found her lover dead, she plucked a snowdrop and placed it on his wounds. It did not rouse him, but at the touch his flesh changed to snowdrops, hence the flower is also an emblem of death.

In rural England the flower is in ill repute. It is unlucky to carry the first spray of the season into the house, while it is downright indelicate for a person to give it to one of another sex, since it implies a wish to see the recipient dead.

March 21, 2014

The second day of spring, which continues to peak around the corner with 400 to 500 Fahrenheit weather intermingled with temperatures dipping into the teens.

“I can see the snowdrops from the kitchen window,” my husband Monte announces. Yes, this morning the snowdrop is clearly visible as I pause to out the window while preparing my morning coffee.

I look out the window in the computer room about 11:00 a. m. and what do I see? SNOW. Big flakes sufficiently plentiful that I wonder if school will close early. IMG_3531E  140321In Germany there is a different snowdrop legend. When God made all things on the Earth, He asked the snow to go to the flowers and get a little color from them. One by one the flowers refused. Then, very sad, she asked a snowdrop to give it a little of its colour and the snowdrop accepted. As a reward, the snow lets it bloom first whenever spring shows.

May your reward for enduring what was, in many places a category five winter, visions of snowdrops followed by other colorful spring blooms.


March 28, 2014: Snowdrops with open petals are joined by a purple crocus

March 28, 2014: Snowdrops with open petals are joined by a purple crocus


Spring…the joy and pathos of the…DANDELION

The Dandelion War Continues: April 2012

Rhubarb, Anyone?


1 Comment »

  1. Carolyn…good morning. Check back to reading…Charlie needs to go out…Now. 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — March 28, 2014 @ 8:29 am | Reply

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