DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm just home from almost a month in
England, which was in the grip of the coldest March in the UK for fifty years. And it wasn't just the snow and the low temperatures, but the bitter wind whistling down from Siberia that kept things at a constant misery level. London should have been blooming by mid-March, but only a few sad daffodils had managed to raise their heads in Hyde Park. It seemed as if spring would never come.
And for all I know (they had more snow the day after I left) it may not come to frosty England, but it's definitely spring in Texas and never have I been so glad to see it!
I came home to find the trees flushed a pale green, bridal wreath and jasmine in full flower, the first pale pink irises blooming, and my roses (most of which are "old rose" varieties that bloom earlier than the hybrid teas) bursting out in glorious profusion. So SPRING arrived for me not in bits and starts but with a bang, and this weekend I realized I could indulge all at once in the things that, usually gradually, mark the season for me. 1) Boston ferns! Huge, deep green, earthy smelling, hanging ferns; two for the front porch, four for the sunporch. The anemic two left in the sunporch from last summer can be put out to pasture.
2)Put out the hummingbird feeders, one on the deck, one on the front porch. Now I'll eagerly await the first of the ruby-throated hummers that enchant me all summer.
3)Cut a huge bouquet of roses from my own garden. The old rose varieties are tousled and wayward, they scatter petals around the big glass vase like confetti, but they are exquisitely beautiful and they smell like heaven. And the first bloom is always the best.
4)Uncover the gas grill, buy a back-up propane tank, and grill those first burgers!
There will be more to come; sandals and shorts and pink toenails, writing on the deck in the mornings, and soon enough, sun-screen and bug spray and sweat. But just for the moment, spring is perfect.
What about you, REDS? What special things mark the official advent of spring for you?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: We are still in the frozen tundra of winter aroud here, the first crocuses just tentatively checking to see whether it's safe to come out. We won't have roses for months! However--ta dah!--the ducks have arrived, dear Flo and Eddy and a few of their duck pals. They've arrived, at just about exactly the same-ish time for the past ten years at least, and have trained us beautifully. They only have to waddle up to our back door, and we are out in a flash with duck food.
I have to say, you know, it's incredibly reassuring to see them. And kind of--vindicating, like they love us, and rely on us, even though they're wild. They leave, too, at the same time every year. What could be more wonderful?
On another topic--we are charcoal grill, all the way.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Charcoal grill here, too, although I begin to wonder when we're going to get to use it. Normally, Ross grills the Easter ham over his mysterious applewood-mesquite mix (grilled ham is the easiest EVER, and so moist and smoky.) This year, it was too cold. We've had a few days when the temperature reaches the upper forties, but as soon as the sun approaches the horizon, brrr!
Fortunately, several of my markers for spring don't rely on warm weather outside. The butcher's shop is full of reasonably priced lamb, which we LOVE but usually don't buy until it comes in season (as you can imagine if you picture trying to satisfy two adults and two teens with lamb chops at $7 per pound.) Easter candy is now on sale 70% off! And my friend's chickens, who've been conserving their energy over the long, cold winter, are now producing a dozen eggs a day, so we have all the organic, free-range eggs we can eat - for free!
Okay, rereading that, obviously my special sign of Spring is a blinking neon CHEAP EATS...
HALLIE EPHRON: Mmm, lamb and artichokes. My two favorites. Asparagus and strawberries (from Florida) are in season.
We grill a butterflied leg (marinated overnight in lemon juice, olive oil, onions, garlic, oregano) on a charcoal grill.
Our signs of spring are pairs of blue jays and cardinals hogging the birdbath. The vanishing juncoes. And a big fat bunny rabbit going lippity, lippity, nibbling the grass... and then freezing like a statue because he (she?) thinks we don't see him.
And the witch hazel around the corner is blooming as are our crocuses and snow drops. And the red maple is budding out.
We took out our porch chairs but not the table. But it's been too windy and cold to sit in them. Someone, tell the wind to stop blasting!
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Spring means Tag Sales! Yay!! With a small garage and no basement I'm not very good at hauling in the terracotta pots for the winter and inevitably there are casualties. Tag sales are the best places to find inexpensive (and frequently wonderful) pots and planters. I made quite a score this past weekend and they are already assuming the positions they will take this season.
The kitchen and livingroon are overrun with seedlings and young plants ready to gooutside - if it ever gets warm enough. And like Debs I'm fond of giant Boston ferns for my shady hanging spots. Three of them are threatening to take over my home (one from last year is in a stand and trailing close to five feet.)
The peony buds are coming up but other than that not much action in the garden yet. Not even the forsythia. Forsythia is the official flower of brooklyn and I'm a Brooklyn babe so I have tons of it...but not yet.
LUCY BURDETTE: Asparagus from the garden! Lots of it! And then we'll plant lettuce and arugula and snap peas...and then the farmer's market opens in early May. You'll find me there every Friday afternoon. Daffodils and my favorite--lilacs. And Malice Domestic comes every spring, right? And this time around, TOPPED CHEF! can't wait:).
DEBS: I can see we're going to have a grill discussion! But for now, you all have got me thinking about food--asparagus, artichokes... yum!
What about you, readers? I know a good many of you are in places where spring has failed to boot, but when it does, what are your sure signs that spring has arrived?