Maine’s Spring Rebirth

[Ramps! At Eastways!]

It’s a cold, gray Sunday morning on the Maine coast. Spring comes sloooooowly here. In the garden, the peonies have yet to break through the soil (though, to their credit, the lilies are off to the races). Trees are bare. But underfoot, around the yard, vibrant clumps of green leaves, sprung fully-formed from the last of the snowmelt: ramps! Turns out our property is awash in them — here they are coming up around the ledges amongst still-dormant clumps of bayberry, and there they are underneath the pine trees marking the line between our house and the neighbors to the east.

I’m amused to no end that, after years of anti-hyping these first green edibles of spring on Eater, there’s ramps aplenty just steps from our front porch. Yesterday, inspired, I pulled bunches of them from the patches under the pine trees. Cleaned and sauteed on the stove, they made a perfect side dish for my brother’s and my dinner of grilled steak and baked potato. This morning, my mind races — scrambled eggs with ramps? Spaghetti with ramps? All of the above?

The (re?)discovery of ramps on our property adds a new wrinkle to the seasonal cycle of our time in Maine. I blogged last fall about the rhythms of the seasons in a house that we close up in the midst of the baseball postseason on Columbus Day then reopen every April soon after opening day at Fenway. My brother and I arrived here Friday night for the first time this year, and we’ve spent most of the weekend rearranging furniture, scrubbing down surfaces blessed by winter visits from tiny mice, and starting the work of bringing the yard and gardens alive by picking up the biggest and most obvious of the endless supply of fallen branches. Water, miraculously turned on an hour before we arrived on Friday, leaks from a faucet near the garden. My brother’s to-do list grows, and we’ll be lucky to get through most of it by June.

Life has been upside-down lately — a better topic for conversation than blog posts — so this annual rebirth, the unfolding of spring, arrives on the calendar at a much-needed moment. With it, the physical act of reopening the house, of restoring order, carries with it a promise that the wheel will turn, and that everything will be okay. And it will, and will be. But first, there is work to be done.