Quarter Days

Kage Baker always acknowledged the ritual divisions of the year. She was, in her intensely personal way, a very pious lady.

Mind you, for these observations she used the old European calendar, as filtered through the Celtic holidays still retained in it. And through her own tastes and preferences, too. She never claimed her calendrical observations were any sort of revealed truth, nor sought to impose them on anyone else: but they gave the year a shape and a pace that she liked. And they were yet more excuses every year for a festive dinner and a moment’s reflection.

So we celebrated the 4 Big Holidays of the Solstices and Equinoxes. Between them, we hit the Lesser Four, the Minor Arcana of rituals, the quarter days: Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas, Samhain. None of this diminished in any way Kage’s enthusiastic celebration of Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Midsummer’s Day, 4th of July, the Day the Buzzards Return To Hinkley, Ohio … as she pointed out, older calendars than the sparse and denatured 20th century one used by the modern Western world were chock-ablock with holidays. Why not keep some of that tradition? It was fun.

In moments of whimsy, Kage came up with ritual observations for most of these. We used them when the fit took us – most of them revolved around special meals, which were always entertaining. Solves the problem of what to make for dinner lots more nights, too – Shrove Tuesday calls for pancakes, and there’s your supper menu right there! (It’s February 12th this year, FYI.) And you know what? IHOP has a take out menu …

Today is that multi-faceted holiday, that changeable opal of the almost-Spring: February Second. It’s Imbolc, Lady Day, Candlemas, the Purification of the Virgin Mary – there’s a definite trend toward goddess-worship there, which the early Catholic Church wisely absorbed and attached to Mary when they were re-organizing the spiritual life of Europe. Spring is coming, and it’s time to acknowledge the Maiden in all Her guises – light white candles in blue cups, bring fresh greens into the house, dine on new bread and fresh milk.

I don’t know what happened in America, that what we got instead was the shenanigans of a sub-Arctic marmot … but even the Groundhog has his enthusiastic devotees, and today the hairy little bugger had the good grace to actually predict an immediate Spring. So Happy Groundhog Day, too! Kage admitted she’d have paid more reverence to the Groundhog, if See’s made a chocolate one for the occasion …

It’s a good day for beginnings, if you’ve got any lying around unstarted.  Here in Los Angeles, it’s also been a good day for lying quietly about – soft clouds, mild weather, not much sunlight … I personally have paid extra attention to the groundhog this year, and spent a lot of the day asleep. I didn’t see my shadow, either.

I’m going to have a cream soup and fresh bread for supper. And start the next section of “Pareidolia”, which picks up in Los Angeles in 1943. Zoot Suit Riots, UFO’s, Japanese submarines attacking the coastal cactus, lines around the block at Hollywood and Wilcox for … See’s chocolate.

So, a happy Quarter Day to all of you, Dear Readers. Whether you are celebrating marmots or Brigid or the Virgin Mother, have a day and evening full of soft light. Spring is really coming.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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7 Responses to Quarter Days

  1. Mary lynn says:

    And a glorious, happy St. Easter Fools Day to you!


  2. Tom Barclay says:

    And many happy returns, as well. Looking forward very much to Joseph’s further adventures.


  3. Chris says:

    In 1932 my Dad moved to LA from a farm in the Salt Lake Valley. They lived near MacArthur Park and in 1943 he started his “walks” out Wilshire Blvd. to the Santa Monica Pier, to fish. He went fishing often and only occasionally walked in order to save his trolley fare for pocket money. He was 11 years old in ’43. I was over 50 before he shared this and I wish I’d been able to get him to tell me about all the things he saw along the way.


    • Kate says:

      Chris – my dad was 13 in 1943. He used to ride the trolley out to Chalk Hill in the Valley, to shoot rabbits in the empty hills. Amazing to contemplate …

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


      • Mark says:

        In ’43 Granddad threw up his hands and walked away from the Hollywood Canteen, which he’d helped get organized and was the first M.C for….because he got pushed out of when the “big names” found out they could get free publicity for “helping our boys.” Broke his heart, because he was still a proud WWI vet, felt great affection for service men, and had done it so he could “do his part.” (…we discovered he had kept his expeditionary uniform folded in his cedar chest, including his tin pot helmet and gas mask!)


      • Kate says:

        Mark – that’s fascinating! My dad used to hang around the Canteen (he was 13 in ’43) to run errands for the staff and the patrons. He wasn’t supposed to be in there, of course, but as we all know, determined kids will always get backstage. And both my grandmothers were volunteers as “kitchen ladies”. Our grandparents must have crossed paths at some point!


  4. Alli says:

    Heard a little pirate joke today:
    What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
    R you think? Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
    But it’s the C they love.


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