This past winter was extra bleak and uninspiring as far as I’m concerned. It led me to take desperate measures when I discovered a red onion starting to grow in my refrigerator. I tried planting it outside in February, but the ground was still frozen about an inch below the surface. Refusing to be discouraged, I ended up sticking it in a pot with a houseplant. The two plants—red onion and palm—have since bonded on the window ledge over the sink, to the point where I’ve decided to leave this pair in their shared pot for the summer.
(I’m curious to see how their relationship continues.)
I’ve been out walking more often this year than in years’ past around this time. There’s just been something extra splendiferous (I like that made-up word) and invigorating in experiencing the forest floor emerge through last year’s crunchy leaves.
Moss blossoms in mid-March, followed by greens that sprout little flowers in varying intervals. Some are fragrant like honeysuckle. Some are just pretty to look at. And then there are the ramps…
I had my first experience with ramps, (aka: “wild leeks”), a couple of years ago when a friend returned from a ramp festival in West Virginia with bundles of these aromatic leafy greens. As one of the first edible plants to emerge each spring, I have personally joined in adopting the wild leek as a “kick-off to spring” delicacy. This year, I gathered more from my harvesting-honey-hole than usual. I mixed the leaves with lettuce in salads, and scrambling them with eggs. I even tried a new ramp-potato soup recipe. None of these methods or preparation comes even close to eating them lightly grilled and salted. Oh my, they are good beyond words.
Last week, I noticed the ramps wilting and dying off.
I guess I’ve never gotten past those primitive behaviors bestowed upon the females of our species as being the gatherers for their clan. I seem to always be gathering something I see as important, tasty, or useful. This includes my collecting of discarded aluminum cans along roadsides and treasure hunting in cornfields.
I’ve been out combing fields twice so far this spring. On my first trip out, the ground was a bit too hard and bumpy, but I managed to find some flint anyways—tiny black, shards with white speckles, and white ones with streaks of gray. It’s hard to fathom holding on to something created hundreds of years ago by the indigenous people of this area, artfully chipping out arrowheads, spears and other tools.
I was set off in goosebumps from head to toe the minute I went out the second time. I found one tiny dark fragment after another after another. Each piece was no bigger than a dime, but they were all within a limited area. I flicked them loose with my thumbnail and kept stuffing them in my pocket. Then I found an arrowhead, milky gray in color like unstirred paint.
Joe turned over the dirt and raked it smooth a few times last week, but we didn’t get it planted until yesterday: celery, two varieties of tomatoes, four varieties of peppers, cucumbers, pickles, and lettuce. We have a bunch of seeds to supplement, or maybe even to use as a late season crop…
…and Bert has been at the skate park riding his scooter down the half-pipe, up the quarter, down the quarter, up the other side, and with a slight, air-born whip of its tail, he lands facing from where he came. He repeats his path in reverse, and then begins the course again, occasionally stopping for a sip from his water bottle, or to talk with his skate park comrades. It’s the middle of May and we’ve had 80 degree temperatures at 6:00 in the evening. Meanwhile, I slouch in my pink foldaway chair, wiggling my toes through dandelion stems shaded by a tall maple tree.
Bert tried using his skateboard a couple of times, but gave up on the idea after a couple of falls. I think the hissing breath from the unexpected, hot-air balloon kept his ego from bruising over the matter.
Although it’s been unseasonably hot and sticky, I like listening to the humming box fan in my bedroom window as I go to sleep. I soak up the scents blowing in across my face. I’m inspired and happy.