So. Beltane has come and gone.
At least for the most part.
And here I am, gleeful at scent of crab apple blossoms on the steadily warming breeze, and wanting to talk about seasons and holy days in my local micro-bioregion.
So where to start?
I think it’s really neat that Anishnaabemowin – the language of the people whose traditional territory I live on – has a word for “early spring” and a word for “late spring” that function as (I think?) names for essentially two different seasons.
Which, when you think about it, makes 100% sense. “Spring” in Ottawa is two different seasons.
The spring of snow-melt and the spring river-peak.
The spring of sap-run and the spring of trees flowering.
The spring of days lengthening and the spring of heat returning.
The joke, growing up, was that “Ottawa Winter is six months long, but Spring lasts a whole three weeks”.
A little over a month ago, the cedar in our front yard lost an entire trunk to the weight of ice that fell as rain but froze where it landed. Two weeks ago, May first dawned cold and rainy. The service berries on my block bloomed on May 5th this year – a week or more later than they did in 2022 but, just as they did last year, they bloomed exactly on the second full moon after Spring Equinox. By Thursday of this week, it will be SUMMER. It will be shawl weather after dark and HOT during the day.
Ottawa has two different springs. And one of them lasts three weeks.
Beltane, in Ottawa, happens when the service berries bloom. That’s when the heat really starts to arrive, even if things still get chilly overnight. They are the earliest flowering trees to offer promise of summer fruit to come. And, increasingly, I’m noticing that the service berries bloom at the second full moon after Spring equinox. Just like the rhubarb (I’m noticing) tends to crown at the new moon associated with the same lunar cycle.
Which I think is really relevant.
As a Pagan living in a Christian-centric, Christian-prioritizing culture, I’m one of the many, MANY people who don’t reliably get their religious holy days off work without eating into my vacation time (which: One of my clients pays me vacation pay now, so I actually HAVE vacation time – Woohoo).
But that means that I celebrate Beltane – and all the other Big Days on the wheel of the year – kind of “as and when I can do so”.
Sometimes – like this year – I get to celebrate it by booking Sunday off work and going to a rental chalet with my girlfriend and spending Beltane Sunday-Monday burning incense and making fancy food and spending a lot of time in a sauna because it was raining to hard to make use of the fire pit or the outdoor hot tub.
Sometimes – like last year – I celebrate Beltane by going for a walk in the woods on the second full moon after the Spring Equinox, watching the moon rise over the pond, and realizing for the first time that the flowering trees were starting to open their blossoms literally as the moon was coming up.
Sometimes – like in 2021 – I celebrate Beltane with a ritual group that meets on the Sunday afternoon closest to May 1st.
What I’m saying is: Thinking of Beltane as a season – as a season of late spring – gives me some really helpful options around scheduling, even as it also feels like a more accurate way of looking at things.
I don’t know if I think of the solar points of the year-wheel as “seasons” in quite the same way. In significant part because they’re starting points to whole seasons of their own:
That brief period of bonus summer that happens after the first frost warnings of early September is generally done-like-dinner by the time Autumn Equinox rolls around.
The snow and cold of Winter really close in after Midwinter’s night.
But I do tend to think of the 4-5 days on either side of those points-in-time as part of the “season” of Midsummer, Spring Equinox, etc. Particularly (and for no reasons that are particularly-based-on-astronomy) when there’s a full or new moon happening nearby in the calendar.
Anyway. All of this is just to say that (a) connecting with my micro-bioregion is a forever-project, and there’s always something new to learn, and (b) In spite of making offerings on and around May 1st (waffles and sparkling blush wine at the Spring stone and in the front yard; A red velvet cupcake and some red wine + some incense at the fancy chalet) I still haven’t actually burned any beeswax candles as offerings for my Gods and Ancestors (and everyone else) for Beltane yet… and I should probably get on that before the new moon hits on Friday.
 Note to Self: If you’re going to put essential oils on the hot rocks of the wood-burning sauna, use no more than, like, 4-6 drops TOTAL, not 4-6 drops per oil. Or you will get dizzy and need to leave the sauna rather than having the mystical ecstatic energy experience you were aiming for.