Spring is finally here. I mean real spring. Not just supposed-to-be-spring. And as Hubby said the other day, “It’s like being reborn. Or something.”

Our apple tree is budding, the daffodils and the narcissus are blooming. I have to say our poor tulips have taken a hit. They tried to come up a few weeks ago, foolhardy little things that they are. Then they stalled while it snowed and sleeted, and now even though they’re blooming, they look as if they’ve been through the wars. Kind of shell-shocked, so to speak.

Hubby is out roto-tilling the vegetable garden this morning. And finally planting his peas. He’s been stressing about his peas. Hubby loves his garden. He loves to plan it, plant it, watch it grow, and then grumble about how much he’s planted, and how much work it is. And how he will definitely cut back next year. Ha. I’ll let you know if that ever happens.

blossoms on the walking trail along the Jock River, near Manotick, Ontario
Pink buds against the blue, blue sky on the walking trail.

I don’t know how we’d get along without the garden. Oh, of course we’d ‘get along,’ maybe shop farmer’s markets for fresh vegetables or something. But there’s nothing like being able to pop out to the back yard to pick lettuce, or carrots, or basil and tomatoes for supper, or lunch.

Luckily for us, Hubby loves to garden. Because I hate it. Really hate it. You see, back when I was a kid, we had acres and acres of garden. Seriously. And therein, my friends, lies the story of why I DO NOT garden.

Oh god, how I’d groan when my mum would say, “The beans are ready.” I think it’s seared on my brain, the image of crouching in the garden, between the rows, picking and picking, and filling big plastic buckets with green or yellow beans. In my memory the day was always too hot, and when I’d glance up, the rows still to be picked seemed to stretch to the horizon and beyond. Actually since the garden was on a slope and I would have been facing uphill, it probably did stretch into the horizon. Sometimes if I pulled too hard on a big handful of beans, the whole plant would come out of the ground. And dreadful, selfish fifteen-year-old that I was, I confess to feeling a bit smug that this meant fewer beans for the next picking.

There was always, always something I’d rather be doing than picking beans. Helping hay, driving the tractor, running the ferry, reading that book waiting for me in my room. And when Hubby and I were first together, and I saw the size of the vegetable garden he planted, I made my feelings about gardening very clear.

Every year I feel somewhat guilty for not helping more in the garden. But Hubby and I have an understanding about my not gardening. It’s sort of an unwritten pre-nuptial agreement. Ha. Still, at least once every summer, he comes into the house and yells, “Suz, the beans are ready.” And chuckles.

tree blossoms on the walking trail near Beryl Gaffney Park, Manotick
Breath, walk, sigh, breath some more.

This week hasn’t all been about Hubby’s gardening and my not. I’ve been walking on the trail in the sunshine. And we’ve been biking, and not into gale forces winds. And not in jackets, and gloves, with our cycling shorts layered over ski underwear. This week, we biked in balmy 20°C temperatures, sunshine, and no wind. And when we stopped at one point to look for the llama that are usually grazing in one particular farmer’s field, Hubby looked at me and we sighed. Then he said: “It almost feels like being reborn. Or something.” Yep. Then we came home and decided that fresh fiddleheads and steak on the barbeque would be an appropriate celebration of spring’s arrival.

Aside from the annual flooding of the Saint John River, nothing heralds the beginning of spring for a New Brunswicker like that first meal of fresh fiddleheads. The early settlers along the Saint John River where I’m from learned of the wild edible ferns from the Maliseet indigenous people who’d been eating them for centuries. And I was more than surprised when Hubby and I were first together that he knew a place near here where the wild fiddleheads grew. And now every year we pick a few meals. It wouldn’t seem like spring without at least one feed of fiddleheads. You can read more about fiddleheads here if you’re interested.

wild fiddlehead ferns picked early in the spring ready to cook and eat.
Now that’s a sure sign of spring.

So spring has sprung, folks. The bikes are out of the shed for the season. The winter coats and boots are all packed away. Hubby has booked his first fishing and canoeing trip of the year. And gardening season is in full swing. Gulp.

I’m not totally gardening averse, you know. I help with the flowers, choosing the bedding plants, and weeding… once in a while. But I draw the line at picking beans. I really do.

How about you my friends? Any visceral childhood (or teenage) memories that have had an impact on what you choose to do (or not do in my case) as an adult? Any wild edibles where you come from? Or ones that you want to tell us about?


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38 thoughts on “Reborn … Or Something”

  1. As a kid I walked along the tracks picking asparagus all spring. We were far from rich and free food was always good. Been married 50 years and had a big garden every year but no longer will I pick and freeze bushels of peas, sorry but they are worse than beans to pick and pod for the freezer.

    1. My husband picks wild asparagus here in Ontario too. We love it. So much more succulent that the cultivated asparagus. I agree… peas ARE the worst. So many pods to make a bowl full of peas.

  2. Lucky you! Garden at home and fresh vegetables ,miraculously comming to the table (thanks to Hubby)!
    My mother’s hobby was,for a while,among the others,to grow vegetables. I was not talented for anything than driving her to the (former) wineyard and remember developing contact allergy to strawberry leaves (not the berries,oh no,no…..) 🙂 when picking them.
    We’ve had a wonderful beginning of spring couple of weeks before,in all it’s glory. Last Thursday I was wearing a summer dress…..and than boom! Sudden return of very cold weather,around 6-15°C,turtlenecks and coats…..We have to attend a wedding reception in a restaurant on Sljeme,nearby hill over 1000m hight-there is snow….and I have changed my tyres for summer ones
    I remember last snow in May some forty years ago (I even remember what I was wearing: new off-white light wool suit -pleated skirt and sleeveless blazer,brrr… and boots!

    1. Oh gad. Snow in May. Been there though. I love that you remember what you were wearing … sounds like someone else I know. Ha.

  3. Wendy in York

    As you know I love my garden & gardening so spring , when the garden wakes up , is my favourite time . I feel about sport & exercise as you feel about gardening . Why would anyone want to catch a ball ? Or race anyone ? Why the need to be competitive ? I can see the bean situation could grind you down but we don’t grow veg – it’s about beauty here . I’ve always been ‘ arty ‘ & love to sketch the garden & the dogs . I think a garden is the appreciation of beauty . I can admire individual plants & flowers as I work out there & forget the troubles of the world . So it’s therapy & good physical exercise too . Other people’s hobbies can be very puzzling can’t they ( fishing ?)

    1. You garden is so beautiful. We are not so dedicated. Stu is more about the vegetables, and me… well… I am half-hearted at best. Still… maybe this year will be the year I kick in… maybe.

  4. Like Dottoressa, allergies mean that gardening can sometimes be fraught with danger–a couple of anaphylactic shock experiences can quickly cure you of that desire. Even the act of shucking ears of corn for dinner one evening left me watching a rash scramble up my forearms and past my elbows. Followed by five days of prednisone. So gardening is not much in my wheelhouse, other than a few flowers round the house and deck containers of flowers, herbs and a couple of tomato plants.

    1. I have to be careful too. Had a terrible rash last year from trying to thin the hydrangeas. Not sure of it was an allergy, ot just sensitive skin and the rough stalks I was wading through. I am not in your league though. No anaphylactic reactions.

  5. Our wild garlic, or ramsins ( I’m not actually sure how to spell it) are my hubby’s pride. He’s been nurturing a few stalks that arrived by surprise with another transplant from a friend’s garden. Now we have plenty. And they are up early and a nice mild flavouring in so many dishes – cooked or fresh!

    1. Stu picks wild garlic when he can find it. So great in soup. Hope you are well. Let’s not forget our the proposed coffee date we made when we last spoke.

  6. Cosette Pathak

    My three grandchildren are coming this afternoon, playing hooky from school to help their retired school principal grandmother plant the first of her spring vegetable seeds and herbs in the wonderful raised beds my husband built for me last year. We eat from them all summer and as a former farm kid, non paid, garden helper and fellow bean picker, I appreciate the ease and convenience of these abundant gardens just out the front door. Of course this also means the start of my summertime war with the various fauna who think I plant purely for their benefit!

    1. I do love pots of herbs at the back door. And making fresh pesto with the basil and parsley. Yum. My mum swears by cayenne pepper on leaves that may attract deer. Lots and lots of deer at home in New Brunswick.

  7. Hi Sue,
    Ah..spring! Love it. I have sweet memories with my Mom walking in pastures and woods looking for trilliums and wild flowers.
    No vegetables gardens here. No room and too many trees in a tight yard. I do container planting so I have instant flowers with mature plants. I’m to impatient to wait. My backyard will be full of colour. It’s a lot of work but so worth it! Right now with flowers in the stores its tempting… but I will try to hold off for another week or so. That frost thing!!!
    Ps…when I kids were young they remember going to (dreaded) nurseries with me. Now they love plants. Ha!

    1. Stu used to do a lot of container vegetable gardening. Or raised boxes he built himself, actually. Wish I could summon up the enthusiasm for growing beautiful flowers. My mum was a wonderful flower gardener.

  8. Oh, my… I envy your garden and it’s bounty, but have always been averse to the hard work & commitment I knew one would entail. Until now. Now, I have the time and patience, but I can’t have one where we live. Is life perverse? Or is it just me? LOL.
    XO Donna

    1. Life IS perverse. I’ll probably come around to gardening just as we are ready to downsize to a condo, or something too small to have a garden.

  9. Gardening in Winnipeg can be a challenge but it is an activity that I love…no vegetables in our garden (had enough of that picking from rows and rows my father-in-law planted) but perennials to give interest through all of our seasons including winter and annuals to provide lush bursts of colour. My favourite month is June when the plants are at their best…before insects or weather has an effect. Peonies, roses and lilies…what could be a more beautiful picture? My husband and I treasure time in our garden whether on our hands and knees, sitting in the pergola with a glass of wine or having a delicious barbecued dinner on the deck…home is where the heart is and our hearts can easily be found in our garden. Cheers, Alayne

    1. I think the only things I love to pick are berries. Except wild blueberries… so tiny and labour intensive. I’m definitely a short term picker.

  10. As a kid, most summers were spent in Nova Scotia with my grandparents where they had a small garden and five cherry trees. I can still remember the pure joy of the hours I spent picking beans, gooseberries, currants and cherries. I will not eat cherries, beans and gooseberries (always hated them), but I loved the zen-like task of picking them. 50 years later, I still go out to the U-Pick strawberry and raspberry farms and indulge the picking “itch”.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen currents growing. And gooseberries… haven’t had them since I was a kid. WE have a u-pick berry farm just up the road. I love fresh strawberries.

  11. If I had had to pull beans I’d feel as you do I bet.

    For me, it’s eating fruit after dinner. Never again, as an adult, never again;).

    1. Oh beans… don’t get me started. We had a very large deep-freeze filled with frozen veg and meat from the farm growing up. So wonderful to eat once all the work is done.

  12. Hi Sue, It’s amazing how many times your childhood or teenage memories spark a similar memory for me! I loved this post. My mum was a very enthusiastic gardener ( very much like Wendy I think) and my nana and uncle who lived nearby had a vegeatable garden and apple trees. He taught me how to gently lift the apples in the palm of my hand to see if they were ready to be picked and to this this day, the smell of fresh tomatoes transports me back to his greenhouse … There were also potatoes, onions, beans, peas and blackberry bushes. I would sit and eat as many of the blackberries as I could! So delicious ?
    Our garden at home was mainly grass and flowers … on a hill, which made for a fun time, lawn mowing. Also Sundays in Summer were always a time for weeding! Unfortunately the love of gardening seems to have skipped a generation but the memories I have are so special. Thanks for this Sue!

    1. My mum too. She loves to dig in the dirt. That’s probably the worst thing about her arthritis… eventually she had to give up her flower garden. She didn’t seem to mind too much when she stopped the vegetable gardening… but flowers were her passion.

  13. Love this! My husband and I grew up with big gardens, lots of canning, to get us through the winter. He is one of 9 children and I am one of 4, so lots of mouths to feed. I will plant beans, but only eat them raw or cook immediately and don’t mind if they sit. My brothers and I all had to pick beans daily. I was in 4-H and had to find the right amount of straight, string beans was anxiety producing. We garden and love fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, beets, peas, but keep it pretty simple. We, too, love being able to pick our dinner. We have herbs out front and the chives are doing well. We are having 41 F and wind and rain, so doesn’t feel too spring like. Possible “slush” overnight. Waiting for our tulips. Daffodils are life giving.

    1. Hubby and I used to freeze a lot of garden produce, just like my mum did when I was growing up. We’ve pretty much stopped now, preferring fresh veggies all year even if they are from the supermarket. The only exceptions are peas, which freeze so well. And fiddleheads. Tomatoes fresh from the garden are my favourite. Once they’ve been in the fridge they don’t taste the same. And our own beets and squash. Yum. Hope your tulips keep their heads down until the slush goes away!

  14. Jo in Chicago

    I believe gardening should be seen as wonderful way to commune with nature, and never as a chore. As an avid and longtime gardener, I have learned to avoid the annual cost and most of the tedious work of planting/ tending a garden by only planting hardy perennials. For example, I no longer buy tulip bulbs because of the cost and planting effort required for only two years of bloom, and I’ve stopped tending to those fussy roses that require winter protection and develop black spot.
    As for the vegetable garden, much of the work could be eliminated by growing different plants. In our climate, asparagus, rhubarb, raspberries, kale and chives are nearly carefree, returning each year to provide a bounty of food. Perhaps, you could persuade your husband to plant some of these instead of the hated beans.
    The fiddleheads look like something that would taste delicious. I will have to see if I can find some to try.

    1. We’ve had kale the last couple of years. We both love it. Last year Hubby even picked it when it had snow on the leaves. But asparagus, our asparagus patch has been plowed over to make room for more tomatoes. Hubby has discovered wild asparagus, which is far superior to the stuff we grew.

  15. Ann in Missouri

    Spring for me is GREEN! That fresh, Irish green that doesn’t last past mid-May. And the speed at which the woods thicken up, visibly from one day to the next.

    And mowing — SO much mowing.

    And asparagus. 🙂

    1. Ah yes, the mowing. Last week Stu was stressing about the patches in the lawn that might be dead from winter-kill, yesterday, when I said “look how green the grass is,” he just groaned. Ha. He wants it green but NOT growing. We might have to opt for AstroTurf.

  16. I love plants, but somehow gardening is not for me. Thank you for the fiddlehead picture. Brings back memories. I love them!

  17. Fiddleheads are not a thing here in the south east, but I did buy a bag of them in Maine one spring, only to discover that no one I asked had any idea how to cook them. I finally decided they were asparagus like and used that approach. And thought they were very blah. So clearly need to try again!


    1. Well… they may be an acquired taste. Or, maybe you have to grow up with them to love them. But we always cook them a lot. They should NOT be steamed and eaten tender crisp like so many other veggies. As my husband says, ” You really have to boil the sh*t out of them. ” Then drain and smother with butter, a splash of vinegar, and salt and pepper. Best combined with a strong tasting main course like roast beef, steak, or salmon. And a lovely red wine. This is just my humble opinion,. of course. 🙂

  18. Picking strawberries was a childhood trauma. As a father of 6 children, my Dad tried to economize in every way possible. He planted over 200 strawberry plants each year. As the youngest girl- they were my job. I hated it! Although I do garden, I never plant strawberries!!

    1. Ha. I worked one summer hulling strawberries by hand on a conveyor belt at the local co-op. Put me off strawberries for at least a couple of years:)

  19. I have had fiddleheads ONCE in my life…at a nice restaurant in Minneapolis.

    I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (USA), and my grandmother had a field with the stump (10? feet tall) of a tree that used to be used as a marker by aviators. Blackberries grew lushly around that stump, and on the fence line. My 4 siblings, 2 cousins and I would head down there and pick buckets of blackberries. I tried to recreate that experience a few years ago, but didn’t have the same field. In fact, I had a rather paltry bush which was harder to pick from (or has memory softened the edges? Certainly children are less particular about getting scratched up). My grandmother cultivated other fruits and vegetables (Transparent and Gravenstein apples!), but it’s the blackberries I remember.

    1. That’s a lot of blackberries to keep six kids busy picking! We had wild blackberries somewhere on our farm when I was a kid. I never knew where exactly. Our neighbour who was retired used to trek out to pick them and arrive with a huge bucket for my mum. Then he’d sit and drink tea and eat homemade doughnuts as his reward.

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