Spring at last

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(HOST) Commentator Edith Hunter has finally decided that it’s safe to declare that spring is here – at last – and it’s about time.

(HUNTER) Looking at the records I have kept of my vegetable garden over the last thirty-five years, I find that I can expect the asparagus to start coming up around May 3rd. That means it is not only time to clean up the asparagus bed, but it’s also time to use up any asparagus I may still have in the freezer.

I find just one package, enough for one batch of asparagus soup. The recipe calls for a pound of asparagus, a quarter cup of chopped onion and a half a cup of chopped celery, chicken broth and spices. I take down six very small onions from the onion string hanging in the kitchen. The onion crop last year was miserable. When we harvested, many of the onions were not much larger than the onion sets we had planted.

As I cut into the first onion I find a tiny green sprout in the center. Here is a sign of our belated spring right here in my kitchen. And although the soup recipe doesn’t call for any potatoes, I know that if I look in the last bag of potatoes from my garden, I will find potatoes sprouting. Amazing!! How do the onions and the potatoes know it is time?

It seems like only yesterday that we were battling a nor’easter that dumped eight inches of snow on the poor little snow drops that had come up “because they had to come.” Now the snow is gone and the thermometer is rushing towards eighty.

The hepatica that I moved in from the woods many years ago is out, under the old maple tree. Graham and Susan took the sap buckets down from it just a few days ago. The bloodroot is up as well, and my neighbor Willis Wood tells me that he has spring beauties out in his sugarbush.

The first migrating birds arrived before the last snow storm on April 15th. I had already recorded the return of redwing blackbirds, robins, song sparrows, and brown-headed cow birds. I looked up in my bird book and found that they were all able to live on weed seeds and seeds from my feeders, all though most of them would also like to supplement this diet with insects. Unfortunately the insects were few and far between.

I am glad that the lovely male rose-breasted grosbeak has not yet shown up. He seems to be on the same schedule as the asparagus and arrives in early May. His diet is entirely of “insects and wild fruits, when available.”

Let’s hope that Mother Nature’s schedule is not too badly thrown off by what we humans are doing to the environment. There may be a serious disconnect some day between what creatures need, and what is available to them.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center.

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