Spring is such an exciting time!
Officially it’s not Spring yet- the equinox is still a few weeks away. There are lots of signs everywhere of its impending arrival, though. Suddenly birds are chirping in the mornings, the sun is noticeably stronger, and the tips of the Crabapple tree next to my pilates studio are reddening. I’m feeling the stirrings of movement in my soul and psyche as everything around me perks up.
Some people like Jenna at Cold Antler Farm in upstate NY call Spring “The Season of Mud”, and I see why. Not only does the ground get muddy from freezing and thawing and bouts of rain and probably more snow, but so does a lot of me.
Our immune systems come under attack again in Spring, with extra "output" from sinuses to contend with, and feeling sluggish can impair how well we can fight off germs. Suddenly I’m grateful for the impulse that made me put up several quarts of Fire’d Tonic at the end of January, so it’s ready now!
The Philadelphia Flower show just closed, and that is a sure sign of Spring for me. I was taught that when you come back from the flower show with itchy garden fingers, it’s the perfect time to prune your Lavender. The last few years the Lavender has been under snow, though, so there’s still no plant work available for a frustrated gardener. Here are some Flower Show pics:
Fortunately this area is graced with many wild, weedy Spring greens that are as excited for the season as I am, and I’m betting I’ll see a few popping up as the snow melts this week. Chickweed and Pennsylvania Cress are usually first, and will be shortly followed by Dandelion, Purslane, Dead Nettle, Clovers, and Ground Ivy.
I love the flavor of apple cider vinegar steeped with these early greens, it’s so fresh and bright. They’re also fun to just nibble on, after so many months of fresh plant deprivation, and they find their way into many dishes simply because they’re finally available and so vibrantly green. I’m doing a Spring Greens Weed Walk with Manderley Farm next month to introduce people to these great early plants. I tried to schedule it for late March, hoping against hope that it would be warm enough, but Eliza assured me that we’d disappoint everyone if we could only show them a half dozen very early plants, and that waiting a few more weeks is best. I believe her, but if wishes were horses…well, then I’d be Eliza!
Another thing I’m trying to pay attention to is the TCM element associated with Spring, Wood, and its impacts on my world.
My 5 Elements teacher Dory Ellen Fish told us that the emotions of Wood include anger and frustration, and their direction is “out” (as compared to Fire’s “up”), which can lead to Road Rage. I’ve been noticing more literal and metaphorical Road Rage in me as I want to move forward and am stymied by obstacles outside my Circle of Influence, so I’ve been practicing techniques to diffuse that including Deepak Chopra meditations. His next free 21-day challenge begins March 16.
I’ve noticed that this Spring desire to move forward does not smoothly increase as the days lengthen. It happens in fits and starts, and doesn’t always match the activities and obligations I have planned for that day. A friend said the same thing a different way- all her friends are starting to issue invites to have lunch here, visit there, come over for dinner, try that winery, check out this new place, and she’s not ready to leave the house that often. For her, Winter isn’t quite over yet, and she’s not ready to emerge.
I’ve been noticing a similar thing in me- some days I just don’t want to de-hibernate, and others I’m raring to go as soon as I wake up. And when I push myself on the days when I’m feeling quiet and grey and unmotivated, I really suffer after. Brain fog, fatigue, lethargy, even muscle soreness- yes, caffeine can get me going again, but there’s something in respecting my limits and needs that feels good.
All in all this is quite a transitional season, which seems ironic since it’s heralded by an equinox- a moment when the planet is in balance, when all angles with the sun are equal. Well, Mother Earth may be balanced on her poles, but I’m not! So here are my 5 steps to keep the Spring transition as comfortable as possible:
1. Keep immune boosting remedies on hand like Fire’d Tonic, Elderberry Syrup, Echinacea Tincture, and Garlic Honey to fight the onslaught of new colds and flus that will inevitably attack us.
2. Pay attention to eating instincts. It can sometimes be hard to eat the warming foods that sustained me through Winter when the days warm up even a little, yet I haven’t fully transitioned out of needing extra digestive warmth yet. Allow for a mixed menu in Spring, with some heavier dishes and some lighter, and listen to your body to decided on each meal.
3. Take time for contemplation. As the world revs up around me, meditation, writing, exercising, or one of my favorites- knitting while listening to an audiobook, all help keep me from being overwhelmed. If I jump headlong into the frenzy of Spring, I lose steam quickly and can even come to resent the loss of my Winter calm found during my hibernating- not a good feeling to move forward with!
4. Get more sleep. Winter is generally a more restful time for me, as I work at stationary tasks rather than running errands when driving or even parking is an issue. As the snow clears and all my deferred tasks come due, my days become busier and I expend more energy and time on them, which can lead me to work later hours finishing my regular tasks too. Making my sleep a priority is hard, but benefit far outweighs the sense of inconvenience and guilt that sometimes creeps in.
5. Go outside and get some Spring on your hands. Play in the melting snow, pick a few new shoots to decorate your home, watch and listen to the birds, and revel in the sun on your face. Physically connecting to the season will help you move along with it. I love finding the first leaves poking up from the melting snow and trying to guess what they'll be- Daffodils? Crocus? Snowdrops? Whichever, it's Life and it's Green.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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