As winter gives way to spring, a run of several warm sunny days with temperatures in the high 70’s to over 80 can give people thoughts about an early summer. Farmers and orchardists begin to get nervous that these temperatures will cause premature growth and buds that would be destroyed by a May freeze. Fortunately, in most years temperatures will quickly return to normal and the spring rains take over. The natural order of the earth reasserts itself.
Winter fades off the scene (perhaps with a final dropping of snow or sleet) and new growth is happening, both seen and not seen. Although there may still be a bit of snow on the ground, the daffodils begin to stretch toward the sun and bloom. One can walk through the woods and note the sites of old abandoned homesteads by the blooming daffodils. They survive, spread, and thrive without much help, and the deer find them most unappetizing.
Soon after the daffodils emerge, wild plants that can be foraged and eaten are coming along. Ramps (Allium tricoccum), fiddleheads (Matteucia struthiopteris), the invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), the invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), and more can be found in rural kitchens and then on plates to be eaten. Bitter herbs like dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale) become a kind of “spring tonic” to help ease our cravings for green plants after a long winter under a blanket of snow.
Small woodstove fires in the morning drive out the damp chill and allow the person burning wood for heat to clean out the remaining sub-optimal heating wood pieces. Of course, as the wood burner is finishing the last of the useful wood from the previous year, the new cords of wood for the upcoming heating season are being split and stacked. The cycle of life continues through all of its possible phases.
Before long, the heat of summer will push spring out of the way. Spring is needed after winter to produce the beginnings of new growth. Summer will come in turn to encourage that growth to continue. Enjoy spring while it is upon us. Wander the woods and fields to take notice of the green renewal. Our job is to be the audience for the creation spread before us.
DISCLAIMER — This blog post is not intended as a primer about foraging. The content represents solely my views and personal experience. If you are interested in foraging, always seek local expert help and instruction. Forage at your own risk. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND PERSONALLY DEEM SAFE.