This old house, it lives by the seasons.
A season to put up the wooden storm windows, and a season to take them down again. A season to open the windows to let a cross winds through, and the white curtains whip about like ghosts.
A season for chilly floors, begging us to get the fireplace going, (which is still not fixed), and a season so hot and humid, that the upstairs blinds just have to be pulled by noon.
There's the season when we rake and rake and rake. The backyard turns to brown.
And, then there's the season when the rain brings the dragonflies back, and the old wisteria vine blooms his purple blooms.
By the first frost, the yews are wrapped cozy in brown burlap. By the first snow, we're outside, shoveling the front walk with cold, red noses. A season for flocks of different birds and their songs in the backyard. A season for woodchuck visits. A season for pretty, little decorations hanging in the front window, and holiday greetings.
Off comes the winter bedding in flannels and down, on goes the springtime bedding, crispy and cottony.
This house has seen approximately six hundred and twelve changes of the seasons in her one hundred and fifty-three, give or take years. She's taught me how to organize my time, my way of being in this world, by the seasons.
Can you too, imagine, all that this little house has seen? The Civil War come and go. Buggies turn into horseless carriages. Electricity, indoor plumbing, the telephone and the TV. The first and second World Wars, space travel, the civil rights movement, hippies, Vietnam, 9-11 and more....
If you're quiet and you listen to the silent objects of our past, they can teach us so much.
Today Noah sat with his homework at the big wooden table. The french doors went open, the sun awning went out, and it was just then that I realized: it is now spring!
Sure enough and once again, the house signaled to me the arrival of another season, much louder than the new and tiny buds on the Serviceberry tree. It's always when the windows without storms spring open, and we reach to switch on the quiet ceiling fan upstairs. It's when all the dirty, sludgy water, remnants of winter snow and fall leaves, is pumped out of the mini-pool and into the street. It's when our steep wooden stairs begin to get dustier, and sweeping takes a priority.
I've known that spring was soon to come because asparagus had invaded the markets. Crispy, vibrant, delicious asparagus. This is my favorite way to cook it. Roasted with some nutmeg and some lemon zest. A regular dinner time companion.
In springtime, the light quality changes. And sometimes when you're making the bed, you just have to stop and admire the warm sun through the windows.
Since it's spring, you say: "I will be healthier. I will drink more water"! And so you make lemon and orange water. But....you don't really drink it so much, because you find the plastic ring inside the glass container that holds the spicket on. And you think, acidic water must leach plastic. And you're back to square one.
In the spring, cooking with fresh and bright produce is WONDERFUL! Take for example this delicious Pasta with Walnut Pesto and Peas. Only, I had no walnuts, so I used cashews, and still it was great. You can make it with gluten-free pasta as I did. There are also the most tender onions in there, sautéed in white wine. A perfect spring meal.
Unless you are Noah, who doesn't like ingredients mixed together. Or Jon, who graciously tolerates my vegetarian meals, but finds them un-filling. Then you end up with a husband making a three pound brisket, a happy son who eats, and an empty brisket pan in no time.
And probably, one of the most wonderful, glorious, sweet and happy announcements that spring has to make: the organic strawberries are back! Sure we have conventional strawberries, but they lack something that the in-season, fresh, organic ones do. They might sometimes be bumped or bruised or wonky looking, but they're just so sweet and perfect inside.
In honor of strawberries, I made this old-fashioned, pink strawberry cake.
Happy Spring Everyone!