Spring is here, and she’s making herself known! Life has been springing up (no pun intended) all around this month, from the plants to the animals to the birds. As I’m writing this, I see a storm rolling in from the western hills from our apartment. The dark clouds over the lush, green trees create an anticipatory energy, and it reminds me how lucky we are to have such an incredible view from our kitchen window. The beginning of spring is Aries season in the zodiac, which is considered the astrological New Year — and it definitely feels that way, seasonally. And now we’re in Taurus season (and the season of my boyfriend’s birthday!). Taurus is an earth sign, fitting for the period of fertility and growth we’re entering as spring continues.
This month has brought lots of outdoor adventures. I’ve been paying extra close attention to plant life, looking for patterns from past years and noticing new discoveries. At the cottage, life is blossoming, and we’re loving all the gifts Mother Nature is offering us. At the beginning of spring, the skunk cabbage takes over the entire forest, creating a sea of green, as far as the eye can see. I noticed that the first flowers to emerge at the start of spring, even before the pink and white blossoms on trees, are yellow. Daffodils, forsythias, dandelions, fig buttercup (which are extremely damaging and invasive, and should be dealt with) — all are yellow. In Rowan & Sage’s Seasonal Herbcraft class, she explains how Aries season is the season of the sun returning, awakening all the plant life. Perhaps this is why all of the first flowers are yellow — they’re coming with the return of the sun and longer days.
As I learn more about herbs and wild food, I notice more of them in my surroundings, and for the first year ever, I realized we have a small colony of stinging nettles on a rock island on the river! My boyfriend and I harvested some on Easter, and the flavor was superb! I’ll always be amazed and grateful for all the magical and edible wonders found in our literal backyard. We’re so blessed, and I’m constantly in awe of the beautiful, bountiful gifts growing with the energy of the River and her valley.
Another favorite food we foraged this month were ramps. I’m lucky to know of a secret patch. 😉 Ramps, or wild leeks, are well-loved for their unique oniony flavor, unlike anything I’ve yet to find at any grocery store. However, they’ve become endangered due to over-harvesting. They’re in season for only a few short weeks, grow in very specific conditions, and take seven years to reach maturity from seed. They’re also bulbs, so while they do come back every year, if you harvest the entire bulb, they won’t come back. This has caused a once-abundant plant to become rare, as eager, novice foragers have over-harvested them. If you do choose to forage ramps, it’s best to only take one leaf from a plant, and to leave the majority of the ramps alone so they can continue to grow and spread. Luckily, I think the leaves have more flavor than the bulb! And farmers markets sometimes carry them, so if you can’t forage them, buy them! They do make an amazingly tasty side dish!
Speaking of foraging, I was also on assignment for The Black River Journal this month, assisting Dan Lipow of The Foraged Feast with mushroom inoculation! Keep an eye out for that article this summer!
Plant life isn’t the only life emerging this month. We’re also in fox kit season, and the foxes have been extra active at the cottage. My parents say they’ve heard the foxes “scream” their loud call every night, so close to the house they swear they’re on the front deck! I’ve also seen foxes while on my regular hikes, one taking a nap while I was out geocaching. That’s an activity I used to do occasionally in college after my roommate introduced me to it, and I’ve started up again with this month. Geocaching is essentially a worldwide scavenger hunt, where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden caches. They’re everywhere, from remote parks to busy cities. I’m excited to explore more places and find more geocaches as spring continues! The ones I’ve found this month in some local parks have brought me on some fun adventures, over stream crossings and deep into the woods, near snapping turtles and so many birds…I always feel like a wilderness explorer.
This time of year always makes me feel alive, after a long hibernation. As I observe everything come to life around me, I begin planning for new life, too, through my garden. This year I’ll be trying a new garden space, on our apartment balcony. It’ll be much smaller, with only some herbs and not any large vegetables, but it will be a fun and creative adventure nonetheless.
I hope this April is bringing you joy and excitement, as spring continues to bring more life and light. Below are some of the foods we’ve been cooking and photos I’ve been taking. As always, I invite you to share your April stories in the comments!
Again, marvelous pictures of the eagle!!!! And the little fox is cute enough to take home. Also, now I am hungry!
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Thank you so much!! 😊 I would have loved to bring the fox home!
So beautifully written. . . engaging and informative. I love your deep connection with nature on so many levels. . . The photography is captivating! Thank you!!!
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Thank you so much!!! Your comment made my day. 😊 I’m so lucky to have been able to deepen my connection to nature over the past few years, it’s such a blessing. Thank you for reading!!!