By Ash Alder
Ballad of Spring
If ever there were a more delicious poem than spring, perhaps only the bluebird would know it. Or the nectardrunk duskywing. Or the glossy black rat snake, so entranced by the color of the robin’s egg that he swallows the pastel vessel whole. Although the vernal equinox occurs on March 20, the crocus appeared in mid-February — a perfect illustration of what American short story writer Henry Van Dyke meant when he compared the “first day of spring” with the “first spring day.” There’s a world of magic in between. When April arrives, sow the beets and the broccoli, the beans and the cukes; harvest the tender green shoots of asparagus. Come May, plug blood lily bulbs along the winding garden path. And when it rains, watch the supple Earth receive her gift fully and deeply. Try to do the same.
According to National Geographic, one of the “Top 7 Must-See Sky Events for 2017” will occur on Monday, April 10. On this dreamy spring night, just moments after sunset, Jupiter and the near-full Pink Moon will rise together in the Eastern sky like forbidden lovers. The Old Farmer’s Almanac speculates that a full moon in April brings frost. While it’s not actually pink, Algonquin tribes likely named this month’s full moon for the wild ground phlox that signifies the arrival of spring. Also called the Sprouting Grass, Fish and Egg Moon, if the full Pink Moon rises pale on April 11, bet your folklore-loving bippy it will rain.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
To some, a stone is a stone is a stone. But if you’re one who believes in the healing properties of crystals, consider sprinkling a few among your spring plantings for good measure. Historically known as the “gardener’s stone,” moss agate is said to promote the growth of new crops and to help invoke general abundance and prosperity. In the spirit of Easter (Sunday, April 16), and with a gracious nod to the festival’s namesake, fertility goddess Ostara, tuck a handful of shiny gems into secret nooks and crannies of your garden as if it were an egg hunt for the resident fairies.
It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
–Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective
The Medicine Chest
Want to try your hand at an herb garden? Start now. Since most herbs thrive in full or filtered sun, carve out a cozy outdoor space with optimal light and drainage. Then, allow yourself to dream. Conjure up visions of lush beds with tidy labels, dark opal basil tangled with pineapple sage, aromatic bundles of herbs hanging upside down inside the coolest rooms of the house. Whether it’s medieval apothecary or fresh pesto that you’re craving, spring is here to help make manifest your fantasy.
Here’s what to plant this season:
Basil – Anti-inflammatory. Fresh is best.
Oregano – Treats skin disorders when applied topically.
Chives – Boost heart health and immune system.
Parsley – Rich in cancer-fighting compounds.
Sage – Digestive aid.
Rosemary – Improves memory.
Thyme – Antiseptic and antifungal properties.
Our Future Earth
Earth Day falls on Saturday, April 22. Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, what started as a national day to bring environmental concerns to the forefront of public awareness eventually led to the establishment of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act — a grassroots shockwave at its fi nest. Earth Day has since blossomed into a global event recognized by nearly 200 countries. In 2016, Earth Day Network (EDN) launched a Trees for the Earth campaign in an attempt to reverse the planet’s deforestation trend. According to the EDN website, Earth is losing more than 15 billion trees each year. In other words: 56 acres of forest per minute. The campaign goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees — one for every person projected to be on the planet — by 2020, Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. For more information or to get involved, visit www.earthday.org. But there are countless ways to show the Earth your love on this (and any) day. Plant a tree in your garden. Buy local produce. Organize a community cleanup. And don’t forget to stop and smell those knockout azaleas.
Henry James once mused that “summer afternoon” were perhaps the “two most beautiful words in the English language.” “Easter brunch” make a lovely pair. Ditto “asparagus frittata.” So if you find yourself hosting Easter brunch, and life gives you crispy spears of asparagus, steam until tender, then add to favorite egg dish. You won’t regret it.