I see the irony of writing this on a day where Spring seems to have receded behind a blanket of fog here on the islands, but then we know Spring is more than just the warming sun and the silence which accompanies fog I find softens the day almost asking to take the time to be still with it. With the Spring tides and just passed full moon the water disappears daily so that we can walk out to islands only reachable by boat at other points of the year. It is for these visual reminders that I am surrounded by, and that do impact my life that I am so grateful to live on an island. There is so little chance of missing the changing seasons here.
In Britain the clocks have changed, and with that comes the longer evenings which we have already embraced in our household. After dinner we find ourselves gravitating outdoors, my girls to run around in their own imaginative play, burning off the last of their energy, whilst I dig over my soon to be herb garden and my husband plants out the leeks. Our dog, Rory, has found a new fascination in our chicken, following her wherever she goes with a gentle curiosity, that is so lovely to watch.
The windows sills of our house are crowded out with seed trays, new life appearing daily, just this morning I noticed the first of my Burdock to have germinated and I actually found myself exclaiming, "oh yes, there you are, hello!". There have been so many wonderful stories to emerge from the this past year of people being able to slow down, not be in constant movement and begin once more to notice the ever changing world around us. So if we can at least hold on to this as the country starts 'come to life' once more, then I think that is a wonderful thing to have happen. And I write 'come to life' in inverted commas because that is the thing the country has always been so full of life, it is only the man made activities which have ceased.
But even in the environment I am in it still amazes me how much I still don't know, and with excitement I can wonder what new growth will happen for me. Last year I fully embraced learning about Herbs: their medicinal uses, identification, folklore, and I couldn't believe how much more this opened up for me, seeing the island, my garden and all the earth openly offers to us again and again.
With Spring there is a wonderful sense of renewal, and even in our commercialised culture we may be aware of this being the time to 'get into shape', 'shed the winter pounds' not really statements I endorse, however I can recognise the lost traditions which these stem from. Winter is the time for hunkering down, for eating the warming stews, and traditionally not having access to too much fresh food. Then comes along Spring and with it, it brings all that our bodies crave: warmth, sunshine, and all those fresh shoots beginning to appear. Some of the first to appear are the Violets, the Nettles, the Dandelions, all edible but we may have just never been taught to know. Each of these 'herbs' have a wonderful similarity, they are all Alteratives. An alternative is a herb which helps the body assimilate nutrients as well as in the removal of any waste within the body. And as I said after Winter, is that not just what we need, the Earth gives us just what we need.
I will pick Violets and Dandelions for my salads whilst out a walk with the Dog. Dandelion leaves also in having quite a bitter taste are wonderful to have at the start of a meal to get those digestive juices flowing! Whilst Nettles I love to make into tea, or a favourite in our house Nettle soup. This is my go to recipe:
Adapted from kindearth.net
200g fresh Nettles
1 large onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped finely
1 large potato (approx 300g) diced
200ml coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute the onions in a splash of olive oil on a medium heat, for about 10 mins, or until softened.
2. Add the stock, potatoes and celery, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 15 mins.
3. Meanwhile, with rubber gloves on! Wash the nettles, shaking off any excess water, and pick the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the nettles.
4. Add the nettles to the pan with the coconut milk, cooking for a few minutes until the nettles have wilted, meaning the sting has gone!
5. Blend the soup, and enjoy.
Another change in Spring I notice is a shift in my Yoga practice. With that same sense of shaking of any Winter stagnation and a draw to be outdoors, with the never ending things which can be started now in the garden, I find myself stepping back from a strenuous physical practice. Instead each morning before breakfast I make the time to move through 15 minutes of breath exercises, I find this to be so balancing physically, energetically and mentally. It is particular useful to anyone who struggles with the idea of mediation first thing in the morning, finding the mind to be too quick to jump ahead into what the day will entail. Working with the breath gives a real focus for the mind whilst giving the benefits of a meditation too.
As I said my physical practice softens, I find myself more ready in the evening to stretch out from the day, stopping any aches and pains of working, or gardening. It can be so wonderful to listen to our bodies in this way, understanding what really crave and how we wish to move. So give yourself the space to explore the movement you need this Spring, tuning more into the cycles of the year and how this can affect us as belonging to this earth too.