I am all for seasonal rituals, but there is also a place for celebrating the Turning of the Wheel with your larger community, your polis, taking a local event and giving it a Pagan spin.
The solstices are easy: there is always something going on. Samhain — too many choices! But what about Imbolc/Candlemas/whatever you chose to call it?
Migrations. Having grown up on a diet of “Pioneer Days” and other such history-themed local celebrations, I turn in relief to those focused on the natural world. The Sandhill Crane Festival in Monte Vista, Colorado, just down the road from my birth place, would fit the bill, but it does not happen until early March — maybe that is sort of a pre-spring equinox event.
Those crazy snow geese have already started north by Candlemas, however, and the southeast Colorado town of Lamar has a High Plains Snow Geese Festival that this year fell on the 3rd-5th of February.
The red triangle is the Lamar area. Blue areas are wintering zones, yellow areas are migration zones, and orange areas are breeding grounds — way up north in the Canadian Arctic.
Flock sizes are big.
Families, bird watchers, and a variety of outdoor enthusiasts come to Lamar each February to see the arctic waterfowl as they arrive via the Western Central Flyway that includes Colorado, New Mexico, and the Texas Panhandle. Prowers County’s scattered ponds, lakes, and reservoirs are waterfowl magnets, and the Snow Goose is no exception. In recent decades, their population has been exploding as they currently have a breeding population approaching 6 million, a sizable chunk of which migrate right through southeastern Colorado.
This year I finally drove down to Lamar with a friend and her middle school-aged son, who is volunteering at the Raptor Center. Yeah, we actually got the kid to look away from his phone and contemplate the flocks.
When it works right, just before sundown, you can sit (or lie prone) under the big praire sky and see layers of various ducks, Canada geese, and snow geese moving in different directions — it’s like looking into a giant clock with turning gears and clicking levers
Wheel of the Year? You can see it turning in the sky.
And there is of course a crafts fair and local tours for birding and yes, even some historical stuff.
Check out the photo contests. Contrary to popular opinion, SE Colorado is not all flat. But there is a lot of sky.
One thought on “The Snow Geese of Candlemas”
Nice shots! Incredible birds!
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