I was hoping to get a post about herb-infused vinegars up today, but I’ve had such an exhausting week and weekend that I decided to jot down some vernal musings, so to speak, drawn from the swiftly-running stream of random thoughts that’s been swirling and eddying through my mind while I work in the garden and greenhouse.
I see lots of talk about the upcoming “first day of spring.” I’ve harped before about how solstices and equinoxes are seasonal midpoints rather than beginnings, so I’ll skip that tonight. For me, spring begins even before February 2nd–my first day of spring is January 15, the official start of our gardening and WWOOFing season. In mid-January in our part of the country, spring is still just a tantalizing whisper, present but unseen. But just two short weeks later, the quality of the sunlight is changing and the farm plays host to a preponderance of robins. From there it’s just a headlong rush into summer, which is usually my least favorite season.
This year I’m trying to be more mindful of spring and enjoy it while it’s here. (And, in turn, I’m hoping to embrace summer rather than simply enduring it.) In traditional herbalism, spring is the season of quickening, new life, awakening intelligence, renewal, and inspiration. Spring is associated with the east, the direction of the rising sun, and with the color yellow. Appropriately enough–yellow flowers like daffodils, dandelion, and forsythia are the first to appear this time of year.
Spring also represents the shift from the inward, introspective energy of fall and winter and to the outward, extroverted energy of the warm and light half of the year. It’s easy for me to get swept up in the sudden, ebullient expenditure of the physical and mental energy I rebuilt during the winter months. It’s only natural. But when I’m caught up in the rush I often neglect to take joy in my surroundings and in the seasonal firsts that are all around me, marking the passage of time.
Part of being a good gardener is cultivating a keen awareness of the natural world. That ability must encompass not only analytical observation that results in judgment and action but also sensitive contemplation that acknowledges the flow around us.
It’s easy for me to observe and judge when flats of seedlings in the greenhouse need watering. It’s harder for me to consciously take a moment to stop and admire their lush green growth and marvel at the delicate tracery of leaf veins and the fuzzy white roots that peek out from the bottoms of the plug trays. That’s what I need more of, because I already spend plenty of time with spreadsheets, to-do lists, and paperwork.
At the same time, I understand that a driving force behind my tendency to get caught up in that goal-oriented microcosm is my youth–and I need to cut myself some slack. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in the vernal phase of my own life cycle, and at 29 years old I’m still in the early part of the summer phase, which is still characterized by growth towards maturity and outward expansion. That energy is going to be a part of my life for the better part of the next two decades. I need to honor that while still cultivating my inner garden and sowing the seeds of balance and introspection for later in life.
So in between potting up hundreds of pepper seedlings, propagating more perennial herbs, and starting to build a second hoop house this week, I’m planning on taking some time to slow down, breathe deep, and enjoy spring.
How are you planning on enjoying spring in the coming week?