This month has been characterized by rainy, cloudy days studded by one (or two, when we’re lucky) incredibly beautiful spring days. The rain, to its credit, has brought lots of green. The other day, as I rode my bike down the steep grade of our street, racing past a light haze of green, I filled my lungs with a deep breath of it all. The air was filled with a rich smell that could only be described, at least in my mind, as green, or new life, mixed with wet soil.
Back in March, the mild temperatures were worrisome, and spring seemed destined to explode early. Then April pulled the brakes on everything, and we’ve been in a damp, cold limbo since. There have been days that I didn’t want to walk in the sideways rain, but I went out nonetheless, returning with feet soaked and muddy but my mood light and lifted. I used to lament how quickly spring would be here and gone, but the past two years I have been noticing spring to linger. Not in the nice way that we want, with sunny mild days, but with rain and cold streaks below freezing.
Yet, the green continues to seep in. Thankfully, it seems unstoppable. The front yard is bright emerald contrasting with the dove gray sky. And with the deepening green, comes the spring flowers. The hepatica, rue anemone, wild columbine–all these very delicate spring ephemerals seem to grow right out of the cold rocks. In the garden, there’s the sturdier purple dead nettle, hen bit, and dandelions. Let’s not forget the shrubs and the trees–the arching Juneberry, the almost-garish orange of the flowering quince, the cherries and plums that let their spent petals swim in the air and blanket the ground, and the dogwoods, which have only just begun.
Here are two great works that I recommend, filled with art and essential information, both offered gratis. I sometimes muse on a world that is more giving without denying creators a living. Wouldn’t that be great?
This guide from Tusha Yakovleva is extremely generous, and especially helpful for this area: Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast Farmer’s Guide to Self-Growing Vegetables. Made with the help of farmers for farmers and showcasing recipes from foraging superstars.
Another benevolent offering is from Northern Forest Atlas–you can download three different atlases on sedges, mosses and woody plants (and one on grasses is on the horizon). A field guide with stunning high-resolution photography, images that you can go deeply into as if with a microscope, plus detailed information on identification and habit.