Signs of the Season
A pinch of sugar transforms sour to sweet in this ode to a perennial harbinger of spring.
Hardy and resilient, rhubarb is a bittersweet harbinger of spring.
My hibernating roots call to me as they awaken in the distant hard soil of my origins. Although many miles may span between us, my clan and I are connected by the seasons. We come from the land where planting and harvesting mark the passage of time, and our awakening signals the arrival of spring.
I am a branch of the Rhubarb clan of southwestern Nebraska. We are the hardy variety, the species that grows like a weed, resilient, self-sustaining and perennial. No pampered greenhouse propagation for us. We easily thrive in homemade gardens, backyards and wide open fields, growing sturdy and large. We root our feet in the dirt, authentic and truthful. We are not the “best of show,” but rather the best of the earth. Solid. Dependable.
Our clan needs independence and space to flourish. Too much attention would be intrusive. Too much moisture or shade and we are stunted. Our endurance was hard-earned by confronting the elements. This is what makes us strong, enabling us to push through and shape our destinies.
Harsh growing conditions contribute to our intense and tangy flavor. But a mere pinch of sugar and boiling water initiate a rhubarb metamorphosis, resulting in a delectable and healthy superfood. We complement, enhance and provide a welcome counterbalance for delicate fruit and overwhelming sweetness. We are rhubarb, and we are bittersweet.
A candy-coated life is not healthy for the body or the soul. Thus, bittersweet is the blend of sadness and joy, innocence and wisdom, moving in and moving on. It is the uplifting and challenging stories of your life and the stories of mine.
Hardy rhubarb exemplifies how the most grievous of experiences can be transformed with just a pinch of kindness, helping to develop resilience, character, compassion and good health. We see that the sour times ultimately enrich life’s sweetest moments and cultivate the evolution of the most courageous, most remarkable beings possible.
Rhubarb—my DNA, my clan, my people, my Nebraska, my bittersweet.
What signs of the season speak to you? Share your favorites at country-magazine .com/submit.