Arrival of spring lifts our spirits

When the outdoor thermometer reads 73 degrees in mid-March we here in Wisconsin get a bit nuts. We think that summer has arrived and flock to our gardens, golf courses and any place outside.

Bikes come out of winter storage and skate boarders are everywhere. People walk their dogs making the dogs very happy and children leave their computers to play outside a bit more often. The sunshine lifts our spirits after so many gray winter days and everyone seems to be smiling. At 55 degrees, shirtsleeves are commonplace and at 73, you are likely to see shorts and T-shirts.

We had a few of those warm days this month and they clearly lifted our spirits. Ah, spring is truly here.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about spring are the gardens, both flower and vegetable. The flowers feed our spirits with their delicacy and beauty while the veggies, fruits and herbs feed not only our spirits but our bodies.

In our area many neighbors get together and share the food they raise. One person might raise tomatoes and zucchini while another raises beans and watermelon. Some folks do not have room for a garden but work in their neighbors’ gardens. Then the work, expertise and food are all shared. The best part of this is that the food is raised in nutrient-rich soil and we know it is safe to eat.

Others participate in the local CSA farms. CSA means Community Supported Agriculture. One farmer has the land and raises the crops. People support that farmer by buying shares and by volunteering to work the land for a few hours each month. Instead of food being transported hundreds or even thousands of miles, it might travel a block or at most a few miles saving the environment and saving gas.

These foods taste better than those that have traveled miles and we all share the work. Wouldn’t we all be smart to raise our own food and share with others whenever that is possible?

Up north we can’t raise crops in the winter but with proper canning, preserving and freezing many people eat great food year-round. Not only do we get our veggies and many fruits this way but farmers, many of them friends, in our area sell grass-fed beef, organically raised chickens and fresh eggs from chickens they raise in their own backyards or on their land in the country. The prices are great and everyone is happy and well fed.

So now that the weather is warming up, you will see neighbors outside clearing their land and cleaning up their gardens. As we drive the country roads we see farmers tilling the soil preparing for the first planting of the season even though another winter storm could blow in tomorrow.

The fields will begin to green up soon and coupled with the greening of the trees and grasses, we see new life sprouting forth again continuing the cycle of life. What miracles happen as spring arrives. Living up north provides a deep appreciation for this process. To see the land go from frozen, barren to lush and full and bearing fruits and vegetables is truly moving.

So as I sit today with windows open, a warm breeze filling the house — excitement reigns. Spring is here.

Mary Friedel-Hunt, freelance writer, publisher (Voice of the River Valley) and a licensed clinical social worker, has been a psychotherapist for 32 years. Her column runs weekly in Faith & Values. You may contact her by writing to: P.O. Box 189, Lone Rock, WI. 53556.