Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring and Gratitude

Today is Easter in North Carolina, so Happy Easter for those who celebrate this day!  Of course, the Jewish holiday of Passover has just occurred, so a belated Happy Passover to those readers.  And it wasn't too long ago that the Pagan holiday of Ostara took place, so good thoughts towards any of you who might be Wiccan or other variations of Paganism.  And there are probably some Spring celebrations in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism that I just don't know about; if so, happy thoughts in your direction as well.

I'm sure that it is no coincidence that so many of these religious celebrations take place in Spring.  You don't have to follow any religious practice at all to be uplifted and inspired by the rebirth that takes place in Nature at this time of the year.  I'm noting that even though our past winter was so mild that it seems like turning into Spring wouldn't be that big of a deal, but the flowers and such seem even more intense this year, as if knowing they had to put on an extra special show in order to show off the contrast between the seasons in a year of temperate temperatures.

There are two non-religious Spring-related occasions that we particularly celebrate in our household, or at least we have for the past few years.  One is the opening of our local Farmers' Market in Cary.  While we do have access to fresh vegetables all year round at other Farmers' Markets in the area, the Cary market is shut down from December through March.  So by the time the first Saturday in April rolls around, I can't wait to see all my farmer friends and start buying fresh, local produce again directly from the producers.  And this year was extra special because, after a hiatus of a couple of years, the Cary Farmers' Market has once again move to downtown Cary, and is in even closer walking distance from my house than it was previously!  That means a lot to me in my ongoing efforts to reduce our family's carbon footprint.

Another event of great note in our home is the first fresh local strawberries of the year.  Every since reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (yes, that book AGAIN, for my regular readers....what can I say, it changed my life), I no longer buy fresh strawberries except locally during our relatively short growing season in North Carolina (read the book to find out why).  But I seriously love strawberries, so it is a big deal when they return to our diet, albiet for only a few, short, precious weeks.   So only buying local strawberries in season has really raised my appreciation for this wonderful fruit that is gone all too soon.

But this year, for the first time since I've been shopping at the Farmers' Market, Market Opening Day and First Strawberry Day coincided!  Apparently the mild winter has coaxed the local strawberries into blooming early.  So, joy of joy, I bought a mess of them, and they will be part of our Easter celebration at our spiritual center (we are having an egg hunt for the children, but the eggs will contain fruit instead of candy) and our Easter dinner table.  But I have already welcomed the strawberries by opening a bottle of champagne with a friend and drinking the sparkling wine with our first strawberries in the glass as well.

So pick what inspires you--your religious or spiritual tradition, Nature's beauty, the longer days, the warmer weather, or the return of the seasonal crops.  Spring is great time to be thankful for all the wonderful things that this planet continues to provide us, despite our often not-too-great stewardship of its resources.

I'll end with a lovely video on Nature and gratitude that my friend Lorna shared with me.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I did.


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