Thursday, April 28, 2011


The leaping green here, after only one warm day, is astonishing, especially in the cold and winds of today. Mother Nature is running to catch up, for everything is a week late or more. Today I saw magnolia blooms struggling out, a blue haze of scillas in several front yards, the first green leaves on the crabapple tree out front (hurrah!), and daffodils waving yellow in the gusting April winds. It's all so heartening, even as we all walk with our faces tucked in to keep them out of the intermittent cold rain and chilly winds.

Someday soon we'll be able to relax again, look around, and say "Oh, spring really IS here!" Does living in a four-season climate with cold winters and unpredictable springs make us tougher? more tenacious? Or does it just help us perfect our whining and complaining skills?? Hard to say!

As we come to the end of April (usually a softer month after March, but this year their roles were reversed), I'm ready to heave a sigh of relief that we're through it. Taxes are in and done with for another year, the last exams are being written today at the University of Toronto, leaving only marking and stray papers to be finished, winter coats and boots are partly put away, and then there's the garden. I've put manure onto the back garden, need to put on more, and am hoping all the rain is washing it in. The digging will be next week, hopefully in sunshine and warmth.

When May first comes, the worker's holiday celebrating labour all over the world except in North America, I'll be thinking of le premier mai in Paris. It's the fete des muguets, when everyone is buying and giving small posies of lilies of the valley and the air is perfumed, even the stale dusty air in the old Metro stations. My lilies of the valley in the front yard have been so shell-shocked by the cold that they are only just getting their pointy little shoots above ground. I'll let you know when I see the first blooms, but it won't be for another ten days, I'm betting.

Still on flowers and spring, today as I was finishing my run (two shirts, long pants, and a winter vest! to keep out the raw wind!) I came on a squirrel discard: a broken-off tender barely unfolding stem of chestnut leaves with an attached bud of chestnut flower. It's pale green and delicate, the infant foretaste of the confident tall "candles" of horse chestnut flowers and broad strong green leaves that the trees on my street will be flaunting in about three weeks.

Amazing to think that contained in the tender small bud and leaf of today is the full expression of leaves and flower and hard spiky chestnut. I guess it's no more amazing that the infant becoming the child... But it reminded me of how much I glance at without seeing. The wonders of spring, the foretelling of summer glories and autumn bounty, are all around us in this brief moment, if only we have the eyes, and time, to see.

Just saying!

I hope May is generous with you. And as I plod along with my Burma book, writing, editing, testing, I continue to be delighted to be working on it. The food is so creative and interesting, and distinctive, as well as delicious. I still don't have a title: any suggestions? Please feel free to make suggestions...

The other day I made two soups, both of which I'd been shown how to make in people's kitchens. A friend came by (my favorite situation: recipes tested and someone other than me to taste them!) and had a small bowl of each. She liked the first (Tashi loved that one, a Kachin Soup made with chicken and garlic and toasted rice powder) , and loved the second one (a bean thread soup, the broth flavoured with dried shrimp, the large dark red ones, and shallots, the noodles slippery and pleasing, definitely one of those "greater than the sum of its parts" magical soups). She's now asked me for the recipe. Now THAT feels good!

Happy end of April everyone.

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