Spring Walking

On a walk the other day, I came across a four square board painted on the patio of an apartment building. I haven’t played the game since grade school. It reminded me of the time I painted a four square board in the basement of my grandmother’s house.Four square board.

While it seemed reasonable to my grandmother that I draw it in chalk, it seemed more reasonable to me that I paint it with something less smear-able, like some leftover house paint I found on a shelf. These elements seemed so reasonable to each of us that neither of us felt the need to cover this detail. A lesson for both of us, I guess. There were a lot of lessons learned between the two of us that summer.

As I write this post, the sweet smell of apple blossom and lilac drift through my open window, punctuated by the occasional green of the neighbors’ clipped grass. A squirming parade of day care kids are walking to the park down the street.

Summer in Minnesota is so vibrant, and not just in the botanical sense. From the first warming of the weather, people emerge and unfold with verve. There are so many good reasons to be outside, both with and without social engagement.

After this intense, interior winter I’m flinging myself outdoors as often as possible. We’ve been waking up gardens and clearing old stems & leaves from flower beds. It’s so tempting to start putting plants in the ground but in the upper mid-west I’ve learned to wait until after Mother’s day. There’s still about a week of winds and rain that could be cold enough to chill most plant starts, or keep soil from warming sufficiently to germinate seeds.

Of course there are those hardy sorts; cruciferous veggies, dandelions, rhubarb, and tulips. Like folks who put on shorts and run around barefoot in April, they relish those first crisply, chilly-warm days of spring. Rhubarb, in fact, needs a cold spring to break its frosty winter fast. Every now and then I meet a northerner living in the south who misses their beloved tart and astringent treat, unaware that this robust monster didn’t just grow everywhere.

Dandelions, though, I think, grow everywhere. Weeds, to those who believe their lawns need to be boring, green carpets. Dandelions in blossom petals.This plant is edible in so many ways from root to greens to florets. It can also be bitter, so the key to an enjoyable harvest is timing. Like the roots; they aren’t starchy and can get bitter as they use their sugars to grow but a good frost can sweeten them back up. So, if you’re foraging dandelions and run into an unsatisfactory result, don’t give up, Read Up.

I think dandelions wouldn’t be a bane to so many if they were a regular part of our diet.