Welcoming the Spring Sun and Awakening Plants

ground ivy swathIn New England and elsewhere it was a verrrry long, cold, and dark winter. Even die-hard winter lovers were finally begging for spring to arrive.

And so it has, albeit slowly, perhaps still feeling the chill of the retreating winter. I did not see my first dandelion flower until this week! This is highly unusual as here on the New England coast, even when we have heavy snow winters, there are usually patches of clear ground where you can sometimes find dandelions blooming in December, and certainly they are coming along in a few places in late March and early April.

A few days ago I led my first Urban Foraging Ramble of the season, and we trekked through downtown Beverly (Massachusetts) finding the plants that in the city are beginning to sprout or put out fresh new leaves and buds or even to bloom.

Queen Anne's lace Daucus_carota

Blooming Queen Anne’s lace. It flowers the second year of its life cycle.

Excitingly, we found a Queen Anne’s lace second-year plant already in full feathery leaf, tucked into a little alcove where a building wall met the sidewalk. The warmth was just enough to encourage an early royal appearance! Unfortunately I didn’t think to photograph our friend, so you’ll just have to content yourself with this stock picture of Her Majesty.

Welcoming Sunlight

The sun was gloriously warm, helping dispel the coldish wind. Both while waiting for my students and when I got home I sat and basked in the sun. I have never missed the sun like I did this winter! I had never truly understood how vital sunlight and the Sun itself are to my happiness and mental well-being.

After sitting for an hour or more in the afternoon sun I wanted to go inside and nap, but when I got up to go inside I felt a visceral need to spend more time in the sun, a physical pull to stay in the sun. It was quite extraordinary, I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

Human beings have always needed sunshine and a connection with the great being in the sky, the Sun. It is only in the last one or two hundred years that many societies have lost their connection with the Sun and with the outdoors, coming to fear nature and sunlight.

Doreen Virtue, in her book Angel Medicine, talks about our need for sunshine, the light itself, and the rainbow energy it carries. She mentions that we need to spend time in the sun, though if we are fair-skinned it is better to do so in early morning and late afternoon. It is also important to receive the light of sunrises and sunsets, as they help to calibrate our chakras. And if possible, it is best to take in sunny energy without the mediation of windows, glasses, or sunglasses.

I turned to this book this winter while looking for ways to work through my severe depression. Repeatedly I would open it randomly for a message and find myself reading about sunlight and how it helps with depression and health. ‘Nuff said! Except that the sun wasn’t cooperating this winter. I was not only depressed but frustrated. How happy I have been to see the sun shining forth in the last couple of weeks!

Greeting Emerging Wild Plant Friends

With the return of “good” weather, i.e., weather that you can go out in without bundling up in three layers, and the ground thawing out, it is time to go and greet plant friends and allies that are emerging and waking.

In late-ish April as I go walking and foraging I am finding dandelions with luscious leaves and buds starting to rise, a few with blooming flowers. Ground ivy is already scrambling along, ready to take over whatever garden and lawn areas it can conquer. Garlic mustard is putting out clusters of second-year leaves and since it is such an invasive plant, I am happily pulling them up and tossing them in my soup pot. Violets are beginning to emerge. Celandine is happily flaunting its medium-green, furry-edged leaves. Grasses are poking up higher than you’d expect at this time of year.

In all, it is a glorious time to be outside in the sun, finding the plants that have answered the call of spring and shown themselves!

Go outside and find the plants that are growing nearest to your house or office. What are they? Share them with me (pictures are fab) in the comments section of the blog. Happy, happy Spring!!!