The weather hasn't exactly been co operating this year, so it doesn't really feel like spring. Today was gorgeous, in between the rain and wind, so I got outside for a bit and wandered around the garden. It got me thinking about what hearlds the change of season for me. Well that and my cousin Leslie's post about her 10 signs of spring LOL. Here is my list, a little different form hers.
My first sign spring is on the way is maple syrup season. I love the stuff. Making maple syrup has lots of memories for me, most good, one funny, but not at the time. It also has a long history in my family.
A picture of my great grandfather, William Fisher, making syrup
My father, Eric, tapping trees
Sap buckets ready to collect
When I was little, I remember my grandfather, Herb Fisher, making maple toffee for us. There were two big maples outside the house that would get tapped. Later he and my uncles built a "sugar camp" on the farm he retired to and made maple syrup there. When I was about ten, I decided to make my own. We are surrounded by maple bush on my family home. I dutifully collected the sap and began the long boiling process, in our kitchen that my mother and aunt Jean had just wallpapered. Needless to say, I steamed the wallpaper off the walls, an abrupt halt to my enterprise. My father also makes maple syrup. The old "sugar camp" has been refurbished and expanded. I went home this year to see it all in action but brought the cold with me, -15 degree weather so no sap run. Next year. Where does all of this get used? When I was a kid we ate bowls of the stuff with bread and butter, Mom's maple cheesecake, maple toffee, baked beans, my uncle Gordon's "Buck Balls" (BBQed maple glazed venison sausage), maple sugar pie, in all kinds of baking but my hands down favourite, strawberry shortcake. I'll post the recipe for that when strawberry season rolls around.
The next sign for me is the progression of spring flowers. Green gradully makes it's way over the rather bleak winter landscape. First up are the tiny little Spring Beauties. I don't know the real name but they bloom when there is snow still on the ground. Then it is the profusion of crocuses, daffodils and tulips. I love the smell of daffodils.
Mine are in full bloom
Wild flowers start to show as well; blood roots, violets, trilliums, cowslips and Jack in the Pulpits.
My bloodroots are just starting to bloom
the trilliums are the green just behind
I relocated a bunch of native wildflowers to my garden from a fence row that was being cleared. A bit of my home in the country to my home in the city. I do not advocate going out and randomly destroying native habitats.
The herbs start to green up in my garden, a teaser for barbeques to come. The mint my grandmother gave me starts to grow, Mojitos anyone? I make a Canadian version sweetened with maple syrup, delicious. The rhubarb starts to unfold with promises of Barb's rhubarb cake, strawberry rhubarb pie and plain old stewed rhubarb. Much to my chagrin, my rhubarb has never really taken off. What my relatives have growing like a weed, I can barely keep alive, don't know why.
My eight year old rhubarb plant, nestled in my strawberry patch
Speaking of strawberries, mine are starting to bloom. Nothing says spring like fresh strawberries. Mine will be all finished by the May 24th weekend. They are beside the house and are really early. Mine are already in bloom, I took the picture this afternoon.
The first blooms on my strawberries
The next sign of spring for me is once again trying to start things from seed. I get my seed flats ready, add the seeds and..... usually nothing. I have no idea why but I have no knack for starting seeds indoors. Of the 32 sunflowers I tried to start last year, three germinated. I had better luck with the wild ones outside that self seeded. It doesn't stop me from trying though. LOL
This year a sign spring was coming was bottling the wine we made. I now have forty bottles of wine begging me to try it out. LMAO If it succeeds, I'll be making my own twice a year.
Next, it is time to clean up the garden, doing all the things I should have last fall. Pruning the black berries, raking up the dead plants form last year. Checking what survived the winter and what needs to be replaced. Checking my winter onions to see if they are ready to use. I can't believe the weeds are already ahead of me.
Winter onions, almost ready
If I was home on the farm, it would be time to start hunting for wild leeks or ramps.(Google the Hunter, Angler, Gardnener cookbook for ramp recipes) As a kid I ate them raw, right out of the ground. They are delicious but man oh man they reek. No one will be getting close to you after you eat those. Later it will be morel season. Not all that appetizing to look at and you've got to soak them to remove the slugs, but they are my favourite mushroom. I have a secret supplier from home wink wink, you know who you are.
Finally, a sure sign of spring in the city is cleaning up the garbage and dog crap ( thank you to all the irresponsible pet owners out there) the winter snow had hidden. Not my favourite rite of spring.
I love this time of year, so full of promise. The anticipation of great meals to come all summer long. Enjoy.