After the long, dark winter (longer and darker for some parts of the country than others), spring is just around the corner for most of the United States. Although the “New Year” takes place in the dead of winter, the Vernal Equinox seems like a better time to review the year, to contemplate where you’ve been and where you’re going, as cultures all over the northern hemisphere celebrate the birthing of spring. Here are some ways to celebrate!
1. Look for spring foraged foods. The first foraged foods of the year are here! If you’ve never foraged before, start with the dandelion: pick the early leaves and throw them in your next batch of stir-fry or pasta sauce. Violet flowers are also delicious, and a host of other edibles are at your fingertips: redbud blossoms and pods, henbit or deadnettle, and wild garlic, to name a few.
2. Have a vernal equinox party. It’s a time of renewal, rebirth, and new life, so celebrate by serving up some foraged greens (see point #1) along with eggs, asparagus, new potatoes, lamb, or other traditional spring foods.
3. Sow early seeds. In the St. Louis area (zone 6), now is a great time to plant cool-season crops such as peas, spinach, lettuce, or onion sets.
4. Divide perennials (or ask for some). This is also a good time of year to dig up sections of summer-flowering perennials and herbs; they need to be divided to keep them healthy, and you can share your bounty with other people. If you don’t have any perennials of your own, try putting out the word that you’re looking for some— if you have any gardening friends, they’ll likely jump to the rescue. (If all you can manage are houseplants, ask if anyone has succulents they can divide.)
5. Think of how you will celebrate this upcoming year in tune with the seasons. Humans, like nature, are meant to live in predictable cycles, and I can think of no better cycle than the passing of the seasons. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, take time to notice the rhythms of sky and clouds, seed and harvest, hibernation and foraging. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”