Make Room for Spring

It's official: As of 1:48 a.m. ET, spring is here -- but more importantly, winter has been ushered out the door!

In star-gazing circles, that very moment is called the vernal equinox, when the center of the sun's disc stands directly over the equator. The result: nearly equal division of light and darkness and the thaw that so many snowed-under folks in New England and the Midwest have been patiently waiting for.


One of the best things about spring. (flickr.com -- Tsaiware)

Today is also the first day of Aries, the first sign in the zodiac, symbolizing birth and renewal.

"When spring is in the air, appetite, like other basic human urges, responds," writes Molly O'Neill in "A Well-Seasoned Appetite." "There is a renewed taste for the naïve and unembellished."

Even with a mild winter like we've had here in Washington, I've got ants in my pants with excitement and I can hardly wait, like a kid in the back seat on a long road trip. It's the ultimate pledge from Mother Nature:

Don't worry, baby; this wintry nonsense is about to skedaddle and there will be flowers to sniff in no time. Keep hope alive and one morning you'll wake up the sound of all those twitterers who just flew in from Palm Beach.

Hope. That's what the coming of spring gives us.

To me, spring means....

.... Green, green, green -- from chives to watercress, asparagus to pea shoots... bring on the edible chlorophyll and let go of those root veggies, at long last!

... Connecting with the earth: digging in the dirt, returning to the farmer's market, growing an herb garden, chasing butterflies...

... Letting go of the old and creating space for the new or different: Giving up relationships or habits that no longer serve us, taking stock of our pantry, cleaning out the refrigerator, experimenting with an ingredient, technique or cuisine you've been curious about for far too long, saying sayonara to an edible vice ...

.... Ending the hibernation and embracing the light: Lunch in the park, supper on the back porch, weekend picnics, dusting off the grill, opening the windows...

... Celebrating the farmstead egg, a symbol of fertility, the cycle of life and female energy and one of the most underappreciated foodstuffs in its natural forms. The egg can be a binder, leavener, and glaze; it can be boiled (gack), coddled, fried, poached, scrambled, separated and shirred and it can take the form of an omelet, frittata, breakfast burrito, Benedict, hangover sandwich, custard and meringue, for starters. (Stay tuned for an ode to the egg in the near future. )

... and lastly, spring means summer, my nearest and dearest season of all...

Other than the pollen-induced sneeze attacks, what's not to like?

I'm feeling a spring in my step already. Care to join me? All sides of the seasonal fence are welcome to weigh in, down below.

By Kim ODonnel |  March 20, 2008; 7:37 AM ET Spring Discoveries
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Comments

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I, too, am ecstatic about spring, my favorite season despite what it does to my allergies.

The whole metaphorical promise of rebirth; seeing the first bulbs popping up their heads; and the farmers market. Ah, the farmers market!

I truly feel reborn, and all the bright things on my table reflect that.

Posted by: Judi | March 20, 2008 8:26 AM

Hmmm.... Is it too late to get ramps? Where would you find them anyway?

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | March 20, 2008 8:53 AM

DC Cubefarm: I think you're right on time -- or maybe even a tad early: The annual ramps festival in Richwood, W. Va

http://www.richwooders.com/ramp/ramps.htm

takes place this year on April 19.

Keep your eyes peeled in coming weeks at local farm markets for the little stinkers.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | March 20, 2008 8:57 AM

Maybe Spring related recipe in the next few days? Thanks!

Posted by: Arlington | March 20, 2008 11:53 AM

I feel so inspired! Now I will spend my day pondering what to clear out to make space for my new and different. I really want to make my own cream cheese, ferment more a la Nourishing Traditions, and start some seeds. Great post.

Posted by: MamaBird at SurelyYouNest | March 20, 2008 2:00 PM

While I too enjoy the change in foods that comes with the seasons, given the choice between winter and summer, I'll take winter every time (at least someplace where it snows). Staying indoors in the winter is a personal choice. The coolness of the air allows me to move freely, the summer heat ties me down.

As I said though, I love the foods of all seasons. My figs can't get here soon enough, and I hope this is the year the Paw Paws don't drop all their fruit in spring.

Posted by: Arlington, VA S | March 20, 2008 2:16 PM

Kim, I hope you can take this as constructive feedback, but I've been really bummed lately at the paucity of recipes and the constant presence of your recipe-free musings. Only 4 of your last 11 posts have included a recipe. Please, give us recipes instead of your ruminations.

Posted by: sava | March 20, 2008 2:38 PM

Sava, thanks for your feedback. But actually, it's five recipe posts thus far this month (and there's one for tomorrow, which makes six) . Let me explain something: I could post a new recipe every day in this space, but that would be going against my promise to test everything I share with you. Testing a recipe is incredibly time consuming, and I've got just enough time to test new recipes once or twice a week. I also take pride in the mix I offer -- recipes, stories, travel, news, essays -- to me, food is much more than recipes. I know I can't please everyone, but I'm doing the best I can given my time constraints and budget. Cheers.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | March 20, 2008 3:03 PM

Writing a daily blog for publication, as is this one, is incredibly difficult. I marvel at the continued inspiration that reveals itself in the variation and inventiveness of the entries, given that they all relate to food. I agree that recipes can be interesting--but I have yet to make a single one of them. (I have yet to make any from the Wednesday Food Section either, but that doesn't mean I don't read them and copy them and save them for future use). Testing recipes is a basic tenet for giving them out under your name. This way, she knows if they work or not, and what the problems are when the chattering classes respond.

Posted by: Repatriated Expat | March 20, 2008 3:47 PM

I must confess, I'm looking forward to the spring renewal, but there are still so many braised dishes that I haven't gotten around to making yet. All is not lost though as the weather will still be cool enough in the evenings for serving some braised ribs or even roast turkey! I'm sooooo looking forward to asparagus, strawberries, and ramps though!

Posted by: Sean | March 20, 2008 5:20 PM

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