It’s time to put a spring in your step with a cel­e­bra­tory meal

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

Look on the bright side

In New Zealand we of­fi­cially cel­e­brate the first day of spring on Septem­ber 1. Many other coun­tries go with the spring equinox, which this year oc­curs on Septem­ber 23. Re­gard­less of the date, spring brings us out of the dol­drums of win­ter. The weather may be fickle, blus­tery and wet but the length­en­ing days trig­ger the re­lease of sero­tonin in our brains, which helps us to feel hap­pier and puts a spring in our step. (In win­ter, when the days are short, our mela­tonin lev­els rise, mak­ing us feel sleepy.)

The cor­re­la­tion be­tween the change of sea­son and a more sunny out­look on life is so strong that, in 2013, the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly de­cided that the first day of spring should be­come In­ter­na­tional Hap­pi­ness Day.

Watch­ing baby lambs gam­bol around in soft new grass and birds flut­ter­ing about with de­bris clutched in their beaks to build their nests, it’s hard not fall in love with na­ture. New life springs forth ev­ery­where, and the world feels joy­ful and op­ti­mistic.

In my own gar­den there is some­thing new to marvel at daily, as the land­scape shakes off its dusky grey coat and takes on a man­tle of green in new spring growth. A stretch of the hill­side reads like a soft, pale-pink blan­ket as the al­mond or­chard comes into blos­som.

Af­ter months ly­ing dor­mant, my veg­etable gar­den has sud­denly come alive with self-sown mache and miner’s let­tuce, ready to pick for a sweet, ten­der salad. (These greens both ger­mi­nate at very low soil tem­per­a­tures so are ideal seeds to sprin­kle when the soil is still cold.) The first pa­per­white daf­fodils and hy­acinths have pushed up through the cold earth, fill­ing the air with their glo­ri­ous scent. It’s thrilling to go out ev­ery day and see what’s new.

If you’ve ever been to Swe­den on the first day of spring, you will have seen the spec­ta­cle of peo­ple com­ing out from their win­ter’s hi­ber­na­tion in droves, openly hug­ging each other on the streets, laugh­ing and singing. While our win­ters aren’t any­where near as chal­leng­ing as they are in Scan­di­navia, there’s still good cause for cel­e­bra­tion as we say good­bye to win­ter and wel­come in the new sea­son.

What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate spring’s ar­rival than to gather some friends to­gether and share an evening of de­li­cious food and good com­pany. Tan­talise your taste buds with fresh raw shoots and leaves and the tasti­est of spring chicken pies, with a re­fresh­ing creamy pink grape­fruit sor­bet to fin­ish.

Hap­pi­ness and smiles all round.


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