Monday, March 25, 2013

Vernal Equinox

Vernal Equinox

The vernal equinox has just passed, the time when the sun shines right on the equator and the hours of day and night are just about equal. The March or Spring equinox brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and rejuvenating plants and flowers.

The crocuses here have already faded but the daffodils are just now flowering. Their leaves have been hinting at blooms for a while and the buds have been teasing but here are the blossoms - at last. And today it is snowing.

It has snowed in late March and early April before so this is not that unusual but it isn’t necessarily welcome. Most of us are looking forward to the temperature moving out of the snow zone. While we are eager for the season to change, we have to remember that the equinox is the cusp of the seasons, the turning point, not the closing of a door; the year holds on to a little of the past even as it turns toward the future.

The daffodils may huddle into themselves for a bit longer but they will return with vibrant yellow flowers and Spring will assert itself. The snow will be gone, early season plants will poke out of the ground, trees will start to green up; there are buds already on the branches.

Like the changing seasons, we tend to hold on to what is familiar, too. But while we honor the past, let’s not close the door on what is unfolding before us. Let’s enjoy Nature’s changes as we move into a new space. And let us be open to the promise of growth in our gardens, in our thinking, in ourselves.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Herb Planting Time

Herb Planting Time

I have been buying basil in my favorite Whole Foods market all winter. A package of the hydroponic herb can last several weeks, sometimes longer. It is one of my favorite spices. So now that the weather is hinting at Spring, I am beginning to think of planting some in my garden.

I already have mint back there. It comes back every year. At first I had planted mint in the ground but it spread so fast and so far that it threatened to be the only thing growing in that space. I dug up as much as I could and replanted it in a large pot, which gives me more than enough leaves for my needs. I still get outcrops of mint where I least expect it but it is manageable.

This year I think I will make an attempt to grow my own basil outside. My friend’s neighbor, who owns an Italian restaurant, has a virtual nursery of basil plants in pots outside his townhouse. It doesn’t seem that hard to do. I would be in basil heaven to have so much of that herb growing in my garden.

I am also thinking of planting cilantro, which I absolutely love. Cilantro, like basil, has many uses – in sauces, salads, sprinkled into soups. And the simplest of all is to add some to any kind of sandwich for a distinctive lift. 

Yes, I will plant herbs this Spring. I don’t need a whole lot, just a bit. They are subtle tastes but their presence always makes me take notice. I think they will be a good reminder to pay attention, to be in the present while eating, a very Yogic concept. Maybe that little bit of herbal awareness will generalize and spice up the rest of my day.

 The basics of basil and other herbs - definition, planting, harvesting, drying,and more:  

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Touch of Spring

A Touch of Spring

Yesterday was sunny with a hint of warm air. The forecast for today is for 60 degrees. Daylight savings had us setting our clocks ahead to allow more daylight into our day. We are on the cusp of Spring.

The change of seasons will no doubt be welcome though it isn’t something to be taken for grated. I remember the year we had an early April snowstorm. The temperature may be pleasing now, yet we had snow only three days ago. Subtle reminders not to anticipate Mother Nature’s moods.

The female cardinal sits on the branch of a snow-covered bush after last Friday’s snowfall and looks out, waiting, I suppose, for a good nesting opportunity. She likes to build her nest in dense shrubbery or the branches of small trees. The shrubbery hasn’t started to leaf though, and nest protection is rare. That’s probably why I haven’t seen any nests in my backyard yet, though March is traditional nesting time.

I actually like these transitional times, especially winter/spring, which touches my essence. The air is infused with a sense of movement, a shifting of energy, that I find invigorating. Flocks of robins, the time-honored springtime harbingers, are everywhere, creating even more anticipation. The air vibrates with birdsong and mating calls. The crocuses are popping up from their sleep-states to check out the new season. Soon Violets, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lilacs, and Hyacinths will add their fragrances and colors to the scene. Ah, Spring. Time for us all to bloom.

Just the facts:
About seasons -
About cardinals -
About robins –