Friday, April 29, 2011
Ramps are a tender and beloved spring plant. Part pungent garlic flavor, part sweet leek, they are fresh, green and wild. While the farmers market stalls are still mainly full of crops carried over from winter, or from the green house, the ramps arrive as the first absolute evidence of spring.
The past few winters have been my first east coast winters where I lived in a rural setting. College in Northampton was a quiet town life, and then it was the gorgeous chaos of New York City. These two environments combined with my California upbringing had me always thinking of spring as the season that transpired from the effects of the sun shining down onto the plants and earth.
Living through these Northeast winters has shifted my gaze, my very sense of spring, from the sun and towards the earth itself. Long before it gets warm or the days are any noticeably longer, the earth gets spongy and muddy and does not freeze as readily.
The ramps are a similar evidence of the earth itself shifting in season and toward the sun, before the air is any warmer, before the Robin Redbreast has returned, before we've shed even one layer of winter clothing. And we relish them, we find ways to use the greens and the bulbs and not waste one millimeter.
Coral walked around the house with them today, calling them her bouquet. In the early evening, the sun shone broadly through the windows. Coral asked if she could take off her sweater and socks and before I could say no I realized with a feeling of heavenly relief that yes, it was miraculously warm enough, and she could take off her sweater. I took mine off too and we basked in the sun and smelled the dirt and green of the ramps.