A Visit from Persephone
There are some days when the weather just perfectly reflects our inner-life of the moment – Saturday was one of those perfect days for me. It was a cloud-covered, gray day, the moisture in the air gave it almost a hint of sea, with a cold chill (not much over 40) and some intermittent moments of fine, grainy snowfall. Nothing to stick on the ground, just a little breath that’s a reminder that we live at 7000+ feet.
I was never much of a Spring person … I think growing up in Southern California it was just too much like the other seasons, too subtle for me to take much notice. Sure there were flowers that started to bloom in Spring, but in L.A. there are flowers all year. It took moving to Colorado (and later New Mexico, New York, and Wales) for me to start to clue into what the Spring hype was about.
Following a winter when all but the evergreens have lost their leaves, there is a joy to seeing those first green buds on the trees, to the pale little leaves on the wild rose bush, the massive white blossoming of the apricot trees, the little shoots poking up out of the loam.
Spring in the mountain West is always tinged with ice and the knowledge that there will be at least another couple snow storms before the end of May. In New Mexico our Spring is affected by the snowmelt in the Rockies north of us. Up there as the sun begins to melt all the winter ice and snow, the super-cold meltwater makes its way south toward us and effectively changes our weather – we get colder and wetter.
But there is something about Spring chill that isn’t quite the same as Winter or Fall. There’s an energy in it, a stirring. I think it’s the Persephone effect. The Queen of the Underworld has been underground for months, tending to the dead. And just now she has turned her thoughts back toward the surface. She’s begun imagining the colors of Spring’s flowers, she’s begun thinking of new shoots. When she emerges she brings the energy of the dead with her – the chill of the Underworld clings to her. It’s precisely that energy (call it compost if you want) of the dead that allows for germination …
I’ve always celebrated Persephone’s return to the Underworld as representing that much-needed turn inward, down into the unconscious. For one of the first times in my life this year I feel like celebrating her quiet, cold return to the world above ….