The Tipping Point

For anyone who lives in the North, for anyone who knows long winters, there is a point in the middle of the month of February when thoughts of the warm season ahead of us start to feel justified and realistic. It is not that the weather has changed considerably in the previous days – the snow is still deep and getting deeper – it’s just that it suddenly becomes possible to see the clement months of mid-year over the snowbank in front of us. It is the tipping point of winter, that moment when the coming spring appears closer than the previous fall.

Here in Québec City (for me at least) we have just passed over that invisible and hard-to-define line. There are some above-zero days in the forecast, and we have an increasing amount of light every day. But even more indescribably, the calendar seems, all on its own, to have begun its slow descent toward spring. Let there be no mistake, there is much cold and snow to be had yet, but warmth and relief are on the horizon. With the worst of winter behind us, we can now legitimately dream of a bike ride on the Plains of Abraham, an unhurried walk in the Old City, and an afternoon of sailing on the St. Lawrence.

20 thoughts on “The Tipping Point”

  1. Rien à ajouter! C’est tellement agréable de sentir la chaleur du soleil sur le visage en février… bientôt la fin du froid!

  2. And in Minnesota, too! Heard a whole flock of birds singing up a storm outside my office window earlier this week. (Yet there is snow in the forecast…)

  3. What a great reflection on the dynamics of “seasons”! They remind us of death, new beginnings and great meaning in all aspects of a seasonal and human life. It sounds as though sun might be a fairly consistant aspect of your seasons, and that helps sustain inner energy. Thank you for this short story of seasons!

  4. Lovely! While your winters are colder and probably more harsh in other dimensions, winters in northern Illinois brought the same anticipation of first signs of spring (especially where I went to college on the western shore of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago). One departure from what you’ve written – I always felt that the calendar has begun its slow ASCENT toward spring!


  5. Lovely to hear from you.
    We have just had the worse storm here in Surrey England trees blown down roofs ripped off and sadly several people killed by trees falling in their cars or vans.
    The worst is over now just the clear up to sort out.
    Here’s hoping the year will improve and we can start to emerge from our houses once more and get to explore the world again
    Stay safe x
    Heather Edwards

  6. Quel belle façon d’amener la belle saison! Comme le dirait Paul Piché: Heureux d’un printemps qui me chauffe la couenne ☀️☀️

  7. Très belle photo de notre été .Nous sommes chanceux de pouvoir compter sur 4 saisons franches. Quand c’est le temps de la neige, nous en avons en quantité et quand c’est le temps du soleil d’été et des baignades dans les lacs c’est aussi possible.

  8. Tipping point passed this week in Chicago also! Makes it seem like “Why would we go to Florida now?”is a reasonable statement.

  9. Merci Neil, très beau texte et effectivement cela commence à sentir le printemps ! Tes petits textes sont toujours intéressants et inspirants…Au plaisir de te revoir !

  10. Well said as always Neil. It is truly comforting to read positive exerts for the world needs more encouragements and good news these days. The picture you’ve chosen rings true and through my heart for sailing is my ultimate passion (it’s a J29 on the picture BTW).

    My wife and I find solace by preparing for our gardens in early February, growing our vegetables from organic seeds we prepare in-house. It gives us this element of very early spring as we witness the sprouts, emerging from the soil so carefully prepared to encourage life. We take great pride in discovering new green knowledge and appreciation for what Mother Nature can offer and we rediscover what our ancestors knew all along. I find that we underestimate their knowledge of living the long winter with the food they’ve planted, grew, harvested and conserved to get through each winter. We, now rediscover self-sustainability, which is a novelty to us, and was a normal way of living for our grand parents and ancestors.

    I’m fortunate to know that my family took roots in Nouvelle-France in 1657, more precisely in l’Ange-Gardien at first, then, established themselves in “Nouvelle Lorette” where they stayed until they were expropriated to make room for the now Jean-Lesage airport. They resettled later deep into Portneuf, as most of my family continues to inhabit the region of St-Ubalde with great pride.

    Thank you for sharing Neil.

  11. Tu as parfaitement raison, Neil. La belle température s’en vient, et on espère que les Caps pourront jouer une saison normale cettte année!

  12. And if that pandemic could disappear with snow and plenty of tourists come back to visit our so beautiful city next summer, everything would be perfect.
    Keep my fingers crossed…

    Thanks again Neil. Denis L.

  13. Hello Neil!

    Your posts are always a good read! If I may pitch in on this tipping point of winter… Like you, I believe it has to do with the duration of daylight. Here in Québec City, the shortest day of 2021 was on December 21st, with a mere 8 hours, 31 minutes and 55 seconds of daylight. On February 19th,, we had already gained a little more that 2 hours per day, with a daylight duration of 10:33:25. This makes a whole difference! Even though there is still at least a full month into winter, the feeling is now different. We are indeed starting to feel the spring coming!

    For those interested in detailed info on daylight duration for Quebec City, please see !

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