Spring is here in the northern woods of Vermont, and I’m excited to be finding some of my springtime favorites growing in the woods around me in about a month. I thought that I would share a few of them with you.
The first is fiddleheads.
These little guys are a northern delicacy that have an amazing nutty flavor. They’re actually fern fronds that have yet to unfurl. I only pick Cinnamon Ferns (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), but I hear that Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) can also be used. They are sources of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and iron. As for the more esoteric sides of ferns, I only know that they have a traditional connection to weather magic. The spiral is a symbol of cosmic forces and the cycles of nature, so that could potentially part of its symbolism.
The next edible that comes to mind would be ramps (Allium tricoccum).
This relative of onions, leeks, and garlic sprouts from the ground pretty early in the season. If they find a spot that they like, I’ve seen them claim the side of a hill. They are picky about their spots, though. A friend had bought a bundle of ramps from a farmers’ market that was harvested roots and all. I tried planting some of them in a few different locations that I thought might work for them. Only one spot survived, and they aren’t big fans of where I put them either. This pickiness, along with heavy harvesting, makes them a little scarce. I have yet to harvest mine, in hopes that they will spread a little more. As with most alliums (the garlic and onion family), I imagine that they would be classified as a fiery energy. They could be used for banishment work. They also have some of the similar medicinal qualities, due to their shared sulphuric compounds.
One of my favorite wildflowers happen to be an early spring popup around here. It had a few names: Red Trillium, Trillium erectum, or, my personal favorite, Stinkin’ Benjamin.
The beautiful red flowers are striking in the shady spots that you can find them. As you may have suspected from the third name, the Stinkin’ Benjamin has a… “unique” odor. The best way I can describe it is as if a fish was left in the sun for a few hours. Because of how early it comes up, it’s pollinator of choice is another early comer, the fly. Its roots do have medicinal uses, though. The root, along with the root of other trilliums, has been used for menopausal issues, women’s hormonal issues, and coughs. Even though the red trillium seems to be one of the few trilliums not endangered, I still leave the wild ones alone. Symbolically, their three red petals could be a metaphor for the Trinity of your choice. There might be some symbolism to the offensive smell. I have never read about trilliums in any books on magical properties, to I’m left to potential metaphor and intuition on that front.
The final springtime favorite that I will mention is maple syrup.
I work with maple trees often in my energetic work, so I couldn’t skip this one. Vermont and its surrounding states are all in the middle of what we call “Sugaring Season.” The taps that maple producers put in their Sugar Maple trees (Acer saccharum) months ago are flowing with sap, and will be until the trees begin to bud. While the days up here have been in the 40s Fahrenheit, the night temps are still dipping below freezing. As the weather warms, the trees will stop producing clear sap. It takes about 40 gallons of this clear tree sap to be boiled down to one gallon of sweet, sweet maple syrup. While maple has its place in indigenous mythology concerning how humans learned how to make maple syrup, most of the information on energetics and correlations of plants that is used in present day comes from Europe. With its lack of presence in these tomes, I take it that there aren’t really any maples that way. So, we are again left with metaphor and intuition. I know that the sweet nature of its sap lend it to works of love, and giving. That jives pretty well with the juju I feel from the maples I work with, so I’ll roll with that. Maple syrup is also a great gift to ancestors and nature spirits. I mean, who doesn’t love good maple syrup?
So, you all know of some of the things that I will be on the lookout for as this month unfolds, and everything begins to warm up. This spring weather is getting me ready for days of working in the gardens. Now, if only all this snow would finish melting.
Until next week
-The Green Mountain Mage