By Ash Alder
March is the blushing maiden, bright-eyed and smiling, her wild locks softly brushing your skin as she frolics past.
You knew she was coming. The birds have been singing her name for weeks. And yet her arrival has taken you by surprise. You, too, are blushing.
March is the blossoming redbud, soft light, a tapestry of pine needles, bark and grasses.
The nuthatch has crafted her nest, and like the pregnant doe, belly swollen with late winter pansies, a new energy is alive inside of you — a new innocence.
Pale pink blossoms adorn the saucer magnolia, but a tiny yellow flower has caught your eye.
Simple, immaculate, glorious dandelion.
You see it as if through the eyes of a child, pluck it from the tender earth, tuck it snug behind your ear.
The birds are singing louder now. Ballads of clover, crocus, daffodil. And in the garden, each tiny blossom smiles back.
March has arrived and, with it, spring — as much in your heart as the outside world.
Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. — Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
Sometimes, especially on dreamy March mornings, the gentle pull of adventure arrives.
On such mornings, you will wander for the sake of wandering, nectar-drunk as a hummingbird as the fragrance of spring blossoms swirls around you.
You might follow the warmth of the sun, or a sweet aroma, or the distant rapping of a woodpecker, any of which will guide you someplace new.
Then maybe, on some quiet woodland trail, you will discover a fluffy young dog.
He won’t look hungry. Or lost. And from the way he is looking at you, he seems to be inviting you farther down the path.
You’ll walk together, for a mile or so, before the path reveals a rolling field. This is when you’ll realize that, across the field, inside the cottage with the smoking chimney, someone might be wondering where their dog went.
And so you’ll walk him home.
Inside the cottage, which smells of rich and exotic spices, an elderly woman is cooking dal on the stovetop. Her husband thanks you for returning Houdini (he slipped the gate again), and invites you to stay for lunch.
“I’ve just gathered greens for the dandelion salad,” he tells you.
You can’t say no to that.
All you need: dandelion greens, wild and tender. Wash thoroughly, then toss with whatever you’d like. Lemon juice, fresh dill, olive oil and pepper.
Glory of Spring
Goddess of Fertility Day is observed on Wednesday, March 18 — the day before official spring. Among the goddesses celebrated on this day, Aphrodite is by far the most widely known.
Born from the foam of the sea, it’s fitting that this goddess of love and blinding beauty be remembered at a time when tender green shoots and brilliant flowers seemingly appear out of nowhere.
Historically, those seeking to conceive would make offerings to Aphrodite on this day — flowers, greenery, dessert wine, and triangle-shaped honey cakes.
Or, grow a garden in her honor.
Dandelions don’t tell no lies. — Mick Jagger
Laugh in Flowers
The earth has softened. In the garden, sow seeds for spinach, radish, turnip and kale. Plant a Flower Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 12 — but why stop at just one? March is a good month for planting lilies, tulips and roses. And don’t forget landscaping beauties, like rock cress, sweet pea or — in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 — clover.