The pagan celebration for the start of spring, Imbolc, always seems to be too early to properly celebrate, taking place somewhere between the 31st of January and the 2nd of February. This year that was precisely when it began to snow, which covered up the only signs of spring; the Snowdrops and the Hellebores. Yet they must have been there,  for only a few weeks later we were fully in the swing of things; the birds are singing,nesting, and feasting on insects, and I can count many flowers on a tiny walk to the local shop: daisy, shepherd's purse, violet, dandelion, daffodil, crocus, speedwell, purple deadnettle, plum blossom.

Helleborus Foetidus, the stinking hellebore.

One of my practises is drawing local flora and fauna, in order to better know my new home. There’s a special way of knowing something to be had by drawing it. Obviously I'm only an hour away from Southampton, but living more rurally brings new friends: Red kites and Stinking Hellebores to name a few; Violets seem to be a roadside plant here, which is a delight. I am documenting the things of interest in a journal I have started for the purpose, just a Seawhite’s cardboard sketchbook, nothing fancy. The kraft pages make a good sound when you turn them, and like Seawhite's cartridge sketchbooks, they hold media well.

Nature senses something when winter is seemingly at its darkest, and the ancients are correct; March is the season when I notice the spring, when it is acknowledged metrologically, but nature doesn't wait around till the sun comes out. It is preparing underground, ready to burst forth, so when the conditions are right, it is ready to bloom quickly. It does not waste time.

Helleborus Niger, a winter garden favourite 

I however, am more like the some of my house plants, which, shocked at being moved, are in a kind of winterborne stasis; but I am slowly growing used to living in Oxfordshire, and have now painted two Hellebores- the Helleborus Foetitus I found (it does smell, and it is poisonous) and also a Helleborus Niger I saw in a garden, and later bought for myself. Obviously I want to create annotations of pertinent facts (both botanical and magical) to create a beautiful page, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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