Spring: The Season of Renewal

03/17/2009 (last updated: 08/24/2009 13:41)
Judith Benn Hurley

Yellow crocusesIn nature, progress often occurs in small degrees. At thirty-two degrees the earth is frozen and still, but move just one degree higher to thirty-three and the earth starts to warm and thaw. Then plants, whose energies have rested for the winter, begin an ascent that gradually forms new buds. People, too, who have rested their deep roots throughout the winter, now prepare to rise and bloom.

Spring typifies awakening -- it is the “early morning” of the year. Imagine this: In Italy, one icon of spring is a young man dressed in black on one side and white on the other, suggesting that spring is light emerging from darkness. He wears a cummerbund of stars and holds a staff entwined with spring herbs and and flowers. In Chinese lore and literature, spring is depicted as a turquoise dragon, a silhouette of rolling hills alive with the power of millions of blue-green sprouts.

This spring theory -- that as the earth renews itself, so do all its inhabitants -- may not prove true for everyone. A winter rich with fatty foods, lack of exercise, overindulgence of alcohol, unmanaged stress, certain medications, or just a bad mood may leave one feeling less than inspired, no matter how fresh the weather. In that case, these suggestions may provide encouragement.

Renew Your Herb and Spice Rack -- Open every dried herb and spice jar you own and smell it. If the aroma is not vibrant and aromatic, compost those old leaves and replace them. Investigate and find new herbs you like, and avoid buying those you’ve purchased in the past but haven’t used. Try peppermint, which has a reviving effect on the body, by adding a teaspoon of dried leaves (or two teaspoons of minced fresh leaves) to a vinaigrette to serve four. Or buy fresh spring herbs such as dandelion, borage, and burnet, and add the tasty leaves to green salads to taste.

Renew Your Body -- Is your body bored by its exercise routine? Try something new. If you do mostly aerobic activity, add some stretching or try Tai Chi. If you do yoga, add a brisk walk, dance class, or tennis. If you do nothing, park your car a block farther away from your destination than you usually do and walk the rest of the way. Walk up a flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator. In the shower, flex your calves by standing first on tiptoe, then on your heels, and repeating ten times (don’t slip).

Renew Your Pantry -- The spring shopping list includes fresh greens and other plants -- upward-growing shoots -- that reflect the rejuvenating energy of the season. Chervil, chives, arugula, mustard greens, cresses, tarragon, mint, and dandelion contain chlorophyll and various aromatics that gently cleanse the body, leaving your free and optimistic to enjoy the freshness of the season. Green beans and peas provide digestion-friendly fiber; and asparagus, radishes, and strawberries contain compounds that gently flush the system, helping to prevent the digestive distress, sinus trouble, and headaches that a winter of eating fried, fatty, and other heavy offerings may have aggravated. To create your own spring tonic, use some or all of these offerings to make a cleansing daily salad, dressed with fresh lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and a splash of olive oil.

Judith Benn Hurley is an award-winning author and journalist who has written for such publications as The Washington Post, Prevention Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Self, and Organic Gardening. She has just finished her twelfth book.