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Hunter: Signs Of Spring

04/10/12 7:55AM By Edith Hunter
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(Host) While most of us are looking for signs of spring in the fields and woods - and perhaps along the side of the road - writer, historian and commentator Edith Hunter is finding them much closer to home.

(Hunter) It was early March, and although the end of winter was in sight, my soapstone stove was still going full-tilt and I thought I would make some hearty winter soup at least one more time.

I went into an unheated room which serves as my root cellar during the winter. I selected a few garlic, a couple of onions, and a colander of potatoes from the last bag of Green Mountain .

First I prepared the garlic - cut the hard tips of each end and took off the tough outer shell. As I cut it up and put it in the garlic press I noticed that the very center of the garlic was now a soft green.

I took two good-sized onions from the string hanging there, removed the outer brown layers, removed the stem ends, and began cutting up the onions. Again I noticed that the very centers of the onions were now a lovely green.

Then I went to work on the potatoes. Before peeling them I had to knock off a few sprouts that had started up.

As has happened so often before, I found myself asking "How do they know?"

How do the garlic and onions and potatoes sense that Mother Earth is waking up? In the cold room where no sun reaches them, somehow the first stirrings of the great awakening are felt.

I was reminded of a poem that the children and I used to enjoy. Written by Sara Henderson Hay, it appeared originally in Child Life Magazine.

One of these windy mornings
Janie and I will go
Over the dingy meadow,
Over the crusty snow,
Down to the woods where the pines grow tall
And the rabbits hide by the old stone wall,
We'll look for a sheltered hollow
Under some spreading tree,
And there, in the leaf brown darkness,
The magic, magic darkness,
What do you think we'll see!

The slender blade of a jonquil
Thrusting out of the mold -
Though ice is still on the river
And the clear bright air is cold -
But Janie and I are both aware
Of why it's standing so boldly there:
For it's a promise of April
The Lady of Spring designed
And planted there on purpose,
On special, special purpose,
On most particular purpose
For Janie and me to find!

I may not make it into the woods to look for spring this year. But I don't need to. I only need to make it into the cold room to find that the garlic is waking up, the onions are stirring, and the potatoes are sending out their first sprouts.

As Walt Whitman wrote: "It is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels."


Our thanks to Special Collections, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaina for permission to read the poem "One of these windy mornings" by Sara Henderson Hay.
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