Monday, May 2, 2011

May I have This Dance?


Oh May! May is indeed a glorious month. When I take over the world and become the Universal Overlord, I will declare May the first month of the year... It never quite made sense to me that New Year's day should be celebrated in the dead of winter... Ooops! Did I write that out loud? Anyhoo, don't mind me. I don't actually fantasize about ruling the world. I've got enough on my plate with keeping my home under control.

At the risk of sounding terribly northern-hemisphere-centric, May feels like the beginning of everything. I know that there are lucky folks who have gotten a head start on the whole spring awakening thing, but for the rest of us, May is when things really begin to get a blooming! May is when I wake up with a tingling sensation, and wish I can putter about in the yard instead of having to go to work...May is when my internal clock gets re-set, and I become an early-bird-night-owl (which really cuts into my sleeping time, but I usually catch it up come winter.)

Of course Mother Nature is not all sweetness and light in the month of May. Many regions in Canada and in the US are currently being assaulted by terrible climactic disasters. Just last week, Saskatchewan got a huge dumping of snow, because they didn't have enough problems with flooding... violent storms in the Atlantic halted the shrimping boats, delaying the season's opening. But  despite the storms, gale force winds, and the floods there are still things to look forward to in May. For one: the spring thaw will abate, rivers will crest. Others things to look for in May:

Asparagus
Oh!!!! I can smell it in the air! The asparagus are coming! The ones in my garden are pushing along quite steadily. They are not the ones I had originally planted, as those seem to have succumbed to mice during the mild winter of 2009.
The farmers' markets have opened up in Montreal, and they are bustling. Just about every stall has stacks of New Jersey asparagus -just last week, they were still stocking Mexican spears- so Quebec asparagus should not be far behind.


Peas
Perhaps not so much in Quebec, but anywhere else within gardening zone 6 or higher will be seeing the pea pods and shoots arriving any minute now. However, local pea shoots just might be hitting market shelves in abundance this year, as they are gaining in popularity.


Lettuces and Other Salad Greens
If your area has not seen frost over the last couple of weeks, then you will soon have the first leaves of lettuce and other sundries fit for the salad bowl. It is still a little early for head lettuce, as they require milder temperatures and a bit of coddling, whereas cut-and-come-again leaves are almost weed-like. In any case, if the cultivated stuff hasn't made it to the market, you can always go and pick wild greens.

Morels
Morels from the West Coast have already arrived at the market. If Spring on the East Coast is mild and rainy, our own spring fungi should not be far away.


Other Wild Treats
Wild garlic; horse tails; trout lilies... Oh my! There are so many wild tidbits to be had, if you have no experience in foraging, there are people willing to do it for you, and they often keep a stand at the farmers' market.
Fddleheads have begun poking their way out of the moist under-wood ground. They are relatively easy to identify if you are familiar with the food. Honestly, their fronds are quite different from other ferns growing in the Northeast, so mistaken identities are rare. Of course, if in doubt, you can always purchase them from a reliable source.

Wild Strawberries
Yes, you read right: wild strawberries. In May. I have vivid memories of picking tiny fraises des bois in the midst of black fly season, which ends the first week of June. So if you happen to be in wild strawberry land (also know as bear country) at the end of May, you might be able to snatch a handful of tiny berries. The season does extend into June, so if you do not feel up to confronting a swarm of blackflies, the strawberries just might wait around for you. And if you do not live anywhere near a patch of fraises des bois, you need only wait a wee bit loner for the first field berries...


Rhubarb
Just in time for those cute fraises des bois... Although technically a vegetable, rhubarb is the quintessential spring dessert food. I'm letting my own stand of rhubarb grow for a few more days, but it'll be chop time very soon!


The buds on my maple tree have burst. The narcissi and daffodils are in full bloom. Spring is here.



Bon app'!



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