Candlemas and the Waning of Winter

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We’ve had a strange winter this year. The warm days are unnaturally warm and the cold days are surprisingly bitter. The coyotes in the woods seem hungrier than usual this year. At night, they lurk just inside the tree line, yipping and calling to each other in the dark.

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I’m locking my animals up tightly each night and waiting ’til well after sunrise to let them out again. But winter is waning. We’re talking about tapping our trees soon, because the days are warmer than expected.

I love the winter-waning season. We’re getting ready for Lent. This month, we’re baking cakes and roasting chickens. We’re enjoying cheese, milk, meat, and all the foods we’ll put aside during the Fast.

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I’m also mixing up Lenten tonics. It’s nice to have herbal support during while fasting. Almost every culture embraces detoxifying and renewing rituals in early spring. For us, Lent is that season. We fast and abstain, we eat simple, nurturing meals, and drink a lot of tea.

Along with all this, detoxifying tonics help nourish and tone our bodies during the season. I like to mix nettle, yarrow, rosemary, and hawthorn berries together in late winter teas to help my body feel fresh and nourished during Lent. This year, I’m adding in regular cups of homebrewed kombucha and garlic infused honey as well.

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Healing herbs make a great addition to broths as well. In Lent, when bone broth is off the menu, I like making garlic-ginger vegetable broth. It’s heavy on the garlic, and full of herbal additions like nettles, rosemary, thyme, horseradish, burdock, and dandelion root. My kids aren’t fans of spicy soup though, so I keep the ginger and horseradish to a minimum.

This week’s warm weather has me looking forward to all the early spring cleaning of body, mind, and spirit that Lent offers. But we’re expecting a snowstorm Thursday, so maybe I shouldn’t turn my thoughts too soon to spring. There are still plenty of long winter days ahead.

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