Spring is here. I can hear it in the bird chorus outside my window in the morning. The smell of new growth, the gentle warmth in the air, and the buds bursting and bringing color to the scene. But I’m still waking from the wintering slumber. Still stretching and feeling may way into this energy of lightness, hope and new life.
In the depths of their caves, with bodies stalled to a deep rest, I wonder if the black bears bound into spring or if their entry is also slow? Like blinking in the brightness of the sun just after the dark. Right when I wake up, with the smell of coffee luring me out of slumber, I usually can only open one eye. The other stays in the dark while my body adjusts to morning from its journey to dreamland. I’m slow to move from darkness to light.
Is there a point in willing myself to be in spring when a part of me is still slumbering? I urge my mind and body to move along with the moon cycle, spring equinox is here and yet there’s a part of me that still yearns to hibernate. To stay within the soft animal body of my dark slumber, to stay protected in the cocoon. I look at the flowers and marvel at their bloom but inside I cry, “I’m not ready.”
With each new plant that emerges I approach it with hope. “Will you be the one to wake me from my slumber?” To the nettles I urge them to enliven my body with their energy. They, the ones that show growth when frost still looms. When the darkness still lingers on the days and all the rest of the world stays asleep.
The soft scented green garlic at the market this weekend brought a flicker of excitement and led my mind to racing through my mental recipe Rolodex. And now they sit in the damp paper bag they arrive in, tucked into the dark corner of the crisper. Pulled from the earth while their flavors were tender and young, eager to come alive on the plate but I ask them to sleep awhile longer so I can too.
Driving home from dropping off the kids at school this morning I noticed the maple blossoms are ready. Their delicate green blooms just popped from their tight cocoon. Later I’ll wander to their mighty tree and ask for a few blooms to play with in the kitchen. There’s a dull hope that this might be the alarm clock I stop hitting snooze.
The calendar and the earth inform us of the changing seasons and my eyes are open to all the change. I watch the sun moving further up in the sky and the temperature soften but I wait for spring to arrive within me. On lean, wispy branches, cherry blossoms bloom in our living room. Bought with the intention of preserving their blooms in salt and vinegar, now I am watching them and asking them to guide me in my own bloom. I’ve watched the lilac tree slumber through winter and now she’s slowly releasing leaves to the sun. Her buds still tight in a deep royal purple swaddle. Maybe I’ll be ready to bloom when she is.
I’m moving gently, graciously through the days, doing the motions of spring. Today I’ll plant scallions, snap peas and lettuce in the garden. Hope for an abundant salad when the days are even longer. I’ll go sit with the maple and harvest a few blooms, before moving on to the magnolia grabbing a few buds for a soft ginger-like pickle. The earth is waking up, each day another being shows signs of life and bloom. One of these days it’s my turn.
Maple Blossom Fritters with Chaat Masala
Maple blossoms are perfect for plucking right now in the Pacific Northwest. Just starting to bloom they are tender, gently sweet with a light vegetable flavor - think celery.
This gentle batter is a loose spring layer for this wild edible. The chaat masala adds brightness and depth that makes this snack and unforgettable spring delicacy.
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter
4 cups (roughly) foraged maple blossoms
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon chaat masala
Neutral oil, for frying
Gently rinse and completely dry the maple blossoms.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and water. Whisk until completely smooth and lump free.
Place a few layers of paper towel onto a plate to catch the excess oil from the fritters.
Add the oil to a small shallow pot, making sure there is at least three inches above the oil.
Heat the oil to 350*F.
Dip the maple blossom fritters into the loose batter and allow most of the excess to drip off.
Fry until all the batter is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
While warm season the blossom fritters with flake salt and chaat masala.