I fully intended to write about what is being termed THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS this month, but I just couldn’t. While it is a topic that deserves a lot of digital ink, and I’m sure I’ll contribute my own soon enough, the sheer energetic exuberance that is Spring won me over. I simply am not able to spell out more gloom and doom. The gloom, frankly, has lifted, and I’d rather have my face buried in flowers. These days my thoughts are turning to the re-emergence of all of my old friends.
Growing up in
Spring’s progression is like a promising march of the inevitable. First arrive the brave snowdrops. My mother and I would gather a few tender stems and set them in the tiniest of vases on the table. The declaration of their arrival was a shared family event, made plain as we sat down to dinner. Soon I would start peering in last Fall’s dead clumps of leaves for the purple heads of crocus, then baby iris and the ever-optimistic forsythia, early mini daffodils, tiny, gentle blue scilla, and then the big, yellow trumpets in full blast. At this point, a person could really start to believe that winter was behind her and frothier, better smelling days ahead. Grape hyacinths would emerge, real hyacinths, tulips. And then at last, the lilacs burst, the azaleas get on board, the rhododendrons and roses are soon to follow. Relief.
Since many of these bulbs and plants were lodged carefully in the earth by my grandparents’ hands, seeing them today really is like a lovely reunion. Though I live miles from
Emergence of each of these plants, and the greening of the landscape, is like greeting old friends, one at a time. We don’t realize just how much we missed them, how deeply our shared roots plunge, how well we know them, their scent and character. And we are oftentimes caught up in the reverie of enjoying one returnee when another busts in on the party.
In recent years, I have experienced the same reunion phenomenon with Spring foods. It begins with greener greens, then there is the celebration of asparagus – the bellwether of a true shift in season. As the days lengthen the spinach abandons its coldframes, the thyme that wintered over sends out new shoots and branches. And at last, at last cheerful baskets of plump strawberries sit in orderly contrast on the market table, to the frenzy of customer enthusiasm that greets them. As I have delved more deeply into my commitment to local eating, I have learned more intimately the variety and progression of Spring foods – as intimately as I once knew the clumps and clusters of flowers in our yard.
Each new gift I shepherd carefully home – locally raised spring lamb, early onions – pleased as I would be with an old friend, to have them sitting in my kitchen yet again. We’ll share an evening and a creative moment. Or I’ll be surprised to see the upstart on a menu, gracing a plate in an innovative way. The reunion is fleeting, but deeply felt. And I am happy at the lengthening of days, which brings still more sweetness ahead.