Spring sneaked in last night while we were sleeping. The maple tree in the front yard had sprouted tiny red blooms, and the supple limbs on the weeping willow tree waved lime green banners in the air. We should have known - last evening the spring peepers up in the branch below the barn announced her coming in a springtime chorus.
The miracle of spring had come again. The sun beamed down upon hills that so recently were covered with ice and snow, and the warmed earth began pushing up green and growing plants. The grass in yards and meadows grows greener each day, and tiny blue violets peep through the greening vegetation. It truly is a miracle how the dead and barren earth can come to life and begin producing life.
Although the winter was not as harsh as some bygone years, it seemed long and dreary. Farther south, a lot of shrubs and flowers have already burst into bloom, but spring was slower in coming to our area. Lilacs have budded and the forsythia is blossoming out in golden sprays. Wildflowers are beginning to appear, with the tiny white chickweed being the first to appear. The ever-present ground ivy is blooming with their purplish-blue flowers, and will continue blooming until freezing weather.
This mint grows everywhere, and was particularly invasive in our strawberry patch last summer. In fact, it choked out the strawberries and left us with a nice patch of ground ivy. It is also known by the common names of "gill-over-the-ground," "Lizzie-run-in-the-hedge," and other folklore names. It is not useless however, as it is used as a home remedy for stubborn coughs, as a bitter tonic and as a nutritive tea.
The best way to take ground ivy is as "gill tea" which is an infusion of the freshly picked plant. Use 1/4 cup of the chopped whole herb for each cup of tea. Cover with boiling water and keep it covered while it is brewing, to keep the volatile oils from escaping. If it is being used for a cough due to a common cold, give it very hot, sweetened with honey, a cupful four times a day. (Think I'll try it!) As Grandpa O'Dell used to say, "Do you no good; do you no harm!"
The dogs and I went exploring up the creek to see what was coming up. We found the day lilies up about 4-5 inches high. I pulled some up and ate the tender blades inside the outer leaves. All parts of the day lilies are edible, from the withered bloom to the tender buds before they bloom. The green buds taste a lot like green beans when they are simmered in a little water, with butter, salt and pepper.
The first time I tried them, I must have eaten a pint of them. I should have researched them more thoroughly. After I succumbed to a bout of diarrhea, I read in my wild foods book that day lily buds can have a cathartic affect on some individuals. (Especially if you eat a pint of them!) There are so many good things in the woods and fields now, in the young, tender stage. I want to try fiddlehead ferns this spring. I cooked them once, but was disappointed. They tasted like - well - ferns. Maybe I didn't have the right variety.
The common purslane (we call it pursley) abounds in our gardens each summer. It is highly recommended for its vitamin content, and is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids. We always pulled in for pig weeds, but I remember Mom telling me that Grandma O'Dell cooked it as a vegetable. It is used in salads, and is also a good potherb, steamed with a little butter. I read somewhere that it is going to be used commercially. I guess Grandma did know best.
After I try it, I will give you a report on it. It has a consistency sort of like okra, which I like. The mushroom season is coming on, with Patty and Bob finding two the 30th of March. Yes, they were tiny, but they were morels. They have found a few small ones since, but after a good rain and this warm weather, they should flourish. Oh, lots of good eating awaits us in the woods!
Here is a late Easter story from John Beam of California: "When my brother and I were about four and five years, we still believed in the Easter Bunny. We had gone to bed dreaming of all the goodies the Bunny would bring. My mother had been in the hospital and our aunt was helping Dad take care of Mom and the house.
"My brother and I were in bed asleep and awoke to a lot of shouting and commotion. We asked what it was, and Dad said, 'It is the Easter Bunny! Come and help catch it!'
"We bounced out of bed while our aunt was running from room to room and screaming, "Here it is!" Dad yelled at Mom to close the door, but Mom was recovering from surgery and wasn't too fast on her feet. The Easter Bunny escaped.
"We cried, and Mom apologized for being too slow. She hugged and kissed us, and we found the Bunny had left our allotment of goodies before he escaped."