The spring is bursting forth and the energy of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster is also taking hold! The first blush of spring is often exciting and exhilarating for me. I love to wander around the garden and see the little leaves coming up through the ground. The first blooms of the year are always special to me – narcissus, snowdrops and other bulbs begin quite early in California.
As the yard gets filled with life, especially after a wet winter like this year’s, the greenery grows quickly. Before I know it the entire garden is covered with all kinds of grasses, native sweet peas, edibles like mallow and mustard and the pussy willow shows its soft gifts. Flowers begin to reveal themselves shortly after. Peach and pear tree blossoms, freesias, daffodils, tulips, and sweet peas all start their beautiful performance.
When I get too caught up in the energy of spring, I feel overwhelmed and life is chaotic. There is so much growth and potential during spring that it can be hard to know what to embrace and what to save for later. I already have grasses going to seed so I won’t manage (again this year) to pull them before they spread their seeds. Consider what life would be like if we welcomed the seeds and saw them as an expression of abundance. Every year, I practice looking at my enthusiastic garden as a sign of success. It’s effervescence is titillating as I absorb the energy it is putting out into me and my surroundings. Part of my practice is to spend time in the garden without seeing it as work. Instead, I consciously absorb all of the GREEN – a color that fills me with hope and then, I breathe deeply…
The idea of getting rid of all these happy plants before they can reproduce is an influence of our “control and dominate life” culture. The feeling of overwhelm comes from the need to control every aspect of our lives. When I let go and listen inside to what section to take care of first, I am at peace and enjoy the process of putting my hands in the soil and gently lifting out the plants I don’t want (also known as weeding).
I asked an herbalist about the huge amount of Cleavers that I have growing in my garden every year. Her perspective is that the herbs grow more when we need them and less when we don’t. So, I guess, the herbs are telling me I need to cleanse more – a tough request for a foodie like me! I use the Cleavers in my spring teas along with a variety of other herbs that nourish me. The flavors of these plants is satisfying. I can feel myself steeping in the life enhancing properties that they carry.
Here’s a favorite recipe that you can enjoy to take advantage of the lovely wild greens.
Spring Greens Chips
30 leaves of mustard greens and mallow leaves
You can use other greens for this recipe (kale, chard, broccoli). If the center ribs are thick, be sure to remove them first.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Basil vinegar
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. seasalt or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300ᵒ.
- If necessary, gently rinse the leaves and spin dry. Pour oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to mix.
- Add the leaves and mix gently with your hands or a spatula until leaves are coated.
- Add the spices and repeat mixing.
- On a large baking sheet, lay a layer of parchment paper.
- Lay leaves individually onto the paper as flat as possible. A little overlap is okay, but keep it to a minimum.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
- When cool enough to touch, store chips in a paper towel lined large plastic container so they can lay flat.
- Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 until leaves are finished baking.