Spring

Spring

By
Annie Smithers
Contains
4 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792643
Photographer
Patricia Niven; Illustrations: Robin Cowcher

Spring is like a zephyr through your soul. Whether you love or hate winter, the coming of spring brings an innocence that softens even the least romantic of hearts. It starts with tiny, subtle changes. The winter is always strangely silent of tiny bird song, and then as spring creeps in they start whistling and chirruping in the cold of the dawn, as if winter had never been and their worlds are an eternal summer. Quiet, in contrast with the little birds, is the grove of silver birches. Each morning, on the way down the path, my gaze is drawn to them. Something about them seems a little fatter. And then, as I glance across one morning, there it is: the softest, most translucent haze of the cleanest green has appeared. From then on there is no stopping them, and within days the tiny leaves have taken on form and substance.

Likewise, under the thick mat of straw, deep in the dark wet earth, the asparagus starts to stir. Pushing up those first white spears, tentatively poking their noses above the bedding, only to be burnt off at first by the frosts. Then with a resilience and perseverance I can only admire, more and more emerge from the straw bedding, until there are hundreds of little asparagus soldiers saluting the morning sun. The air can still be bitingly cold and the frost harsher and more destructive than at any time of year, but something has shifted and there is hope. Hope and the promise of the sun warming the back of my neck as I go about my chores.

There is a lot of romance in the poultry yard too. I am not ashamed to admit that I come under the human sub-category known as poultry fanciers. The poultry run is set up to house five separate enclosures of chickens and geese. In late winter, I lock up all the chickens with their appropriate rooster. My favourite are the tiny little Columbian wyandotte bantams – chubby, friendly little birds that I think every farmhouse should have. They are colloquially named Carlos and the Chala Cartel, a nod to another vague obsession of mine, yet a murderous bunch of fictional drug lords they are not. Then there are the French marans, and they are murderous. There are two maran roosters – proud, arrogant birds, who defend their women with an intense ferocity, almost in the style of the French foreign legion. Here they are, strangers to these shores, doing their best to keep their lines clean. A stout stick and a piece of fencing iron as a shield usually keeps me safe. The rest of the chickens are kept as layers. The gander, like the maran roosters, gets a little protective – honking and charging at me whenever I appear. It’s a careful dance when I’m trying to collect eggs, whether it be for cooking or incubating. But by the end of spring, I know I can look forward to an absolute abundance of new life.

Spring also brings an explosion of green, in every shade possible. New herbs emerge to be joyfully paired with peas, artichokes, asparagus and broad beans. There is much preparing and planting to be done for the coming seasons, and what starts as a soft and gentle breeze of memory becomes the strident and busy reality of new life and the abundant seasons to come.

Recipes in this Chapter

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