The smells of spring

Friday, March 25, 2016

Outside this morning (9:32 a.m.), the sun is shining brightly, on this second official day of spring. Last night there was a mild freeze, but it is now 41 degrees (Monday). Later today, the high is expected to rise to 61. I am heading to the golf course in about 45 minutes, and I will be checking for the "smells of spring," that will be my official notification, that the season has actually arrived.

In a story from many years ago, I wrote about one particular scent, that when it appears to my olfactory nerve sensors, I generally make that my personal official pronouncement that spring has arrived. That particular aroma is produced by the multitude of wild onions that seem to magically bloom and waft their vapors throughout the neighborhood.

As of this morning, I can attest that I have not as yet encountered that scent of wild onion. Despite the fact, that we have had a generous number of unseasonably warm days the past month or so, I fear that my wild onion spring, may still be a bit in the future. Since I no longer enjoy any part of winter, I sincerely hope I am wrong, and that we have an early and pleasant spring.

Some spring events are not as welcome. A few days back, we changed our clocks to "daylight savings" time. The "spring forward" phrase certainly does not make me feel very "springy!" When you advance your clocks one hour forward, it means you actually have lost an hour of time. It has been about 10 days now since the change, and while I am adjusting, I find that I am still having trouble trying to both get to sleep, and rise in the mornings, feeling refreshed.

Having said that, I will deal with this period of change, because I do like the amount of extra daylight that we will enjoy during the upcoming warm months. If I could affect one change, it would be to move the daylight savings times back to the original dates. When you change this early in the spring, it is still quite dark in the mornings.

Frost is another springtime weather event that can be very unwelcome. With all the recent warm weather, there are a lot of trees and plants that could be devastated by a late spring frost. I noticed on our way home from golf, that several people were covering their young plants.

We will soon be approaching the prime thunderstorm period. This is a time when we receive much of our annual rainfall. During this time, we will see an abundance of green everywhere we gaze. Unfortunately, those same storms can become dangerous.

It has been only five years since the deadly Joplin tornado. It has been 21 years since our 1995 microburst in Nevada. Severe weather is one of those events that fit the phrase, "it's not if, but when!"

I used to wonder why so many people lived in dangerous places like the hurricane zones bordering the Gulf of Mexico, and the earthquake prone areas along the west coast. When it comes to Mother Nature and planet earth, one has to realize, that there really is no safe place.

I remember back in the 60s, when a relative visited here from California, during our spring storm time. One May evening we had a huge thunderstorm, accompanied by tornado warnings. I could see the total fear on their face, as we all headed for the basement, at my grandmother's house. Here was someone who had spent their entire life living on top of the most famous fault line in our country, and they were terrified of a simple thunderstorm.

Spring brings me other outdoor opportunities besides golf. We are planning on doing some fishing in the near future. My fishing during this springtime, gives me much enjoyment. My idea of fishing is to have a couple of rod and reels, which I bait with minnows. As I sit in a comfortable lawn chair, and watch my corks bob, as I wait for a bite, I am content. I don't need a boat or other fancy rigs. Just give me a quiet place to sit and fish with a couple of friends, and life is good.

All over town we will soon be observing the planting of vegetable gardens. It's been many years, since I had my own garden, but we are lucky to live in an area that offers a lot of private vegetable growing operations. We will soon be seeing the opening of our local "Farmer's Market," where you can buy a bounty of homegrown fresh veggies. The Amish families that live north of Nevada will soon be opening their stores as well.

When I think of spring and gardens, it always reminds me of my Grandmother Hart. One of the very first garden pleasures of the season at her home was always fresh garden lettuce. Unlike the bland iceberg lettuce we buy at the grocery stores, garden lettuce in our area, has a vibrant flavor.

In early spring, you could always count on enjoying Grandmother's "wilted lettuce." She had this huge yellow bowl, which she filled with green lettuce and fresh garden onions. In a skillet she would fry some bacon crumbles. To this she added, some vinegar, sugar, and water, which she then poured and tossed into the salad. This very "southern" dish was a staple on her table, along with her overly "sweet tea!"

As I near the finish of this article, I noticed the sounds of birds chirping outside. It is as if every type of plant and animal is awakening from a long winter's slumber.

My advice to you is simple. Get out of that recliner, and go outside. There is golf, gardening, fishing, and you may just smell the wild onions. Don't forget, it is morel mushroom time too. Spring is wonderful in Vernon County!