Spring ponderings ... sights, smells

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By The Staff

How wonderful the earth is springing back to life in bloom, with more to come. Of course, all of the planted bulbs have bloomed, now the perennials and the flowering almond, with its wonderful full-pink flowers. Forsythia with its bright yellow blossoms with its green leaves is starting to encroach on the yellow, the airy white clusters of blossoms on the sarvis tree.

Now, the redbud trees have joined the display with their purplish-pink blooms, with the dogwood and lilacs following. These are all beautiful while in bloom, but seem to be gone in a flash.

Wild violets will be blooming here all summer long, along with the dandelions and roadside lilies ... ahh ... free flowers.

The poplar trees are starting to leaf out, which means it is time to hunt the ever-elusive morel mushroom. We enjoy every one we find, which some years is more than others. I have heard some old-timers say that a late snow, or a lot of snow during the winter, ensures more morels. I am sure there are more old sayings about how, when and why they come up and where.

We have neighbors who know and tell us a lot of these old-time sayings. They should write a book. It would be so interesting and the sayings will be lost if they don't pass them along.

I keep my morels in the refrigerator in a brown paper bag until I'm ready to fry them. I cut them up and swish them in water. I am not one to soak mushrooms to remove bugs. I think it really waters down the flavor and makes the mushrooms soggy. I simply change the water and repeat until I no longer see little bugs or dirt floating in the water, drain and drop them in a bag of flour, removing one at a time, tapping lightly against my hand to remove excess flour.

Then, they are placed side by side in a cast-iron skillet of butter. Oh please, don't fall over at the thought of frying them in butter. It adds such a wonderful taste to the already-delectable taste of the morels. Just go out and work in the yard to get the heart beating and the blood flowing. Our ancestors from long ago used butter daily and they worked hard, which kept them healthier.

Fry until crisp and golden. Repeat for the other side. Lightly salt after removing from the skillet and you have heaven in a bite.

I have heard the turkeys gobbling and the owls hooting. We also have in our area at least one peacock, yes the ones with the turquoise feathers. We have even seen him in the woods with some peahens. We are also treated to their serenade. I would say we are on our way to young ones in all cases.

It has been quite blustery this spring, keeping the wind chimes tinkling. The birds are eating the last of the sunflower-seed and suet-cake bonanza they have been treated to this year.

I made my own suet-seed cakes. Get the fat trimmings from your butcher. I let it melt on our woodstove, not too high a heat or it will cook instead of melt. Add bird seed and stir. Don't worry if it all doesn't melt completely, the birds will take care of pecking it into manageable bites.

Line a cake pan with foil, spoon the mixture into it and smooth out so all seeds come in contact with the melted fat. Put it in your freezer until firm. Cut it up into whatever size you want, keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer. I use a mesh onion sack and tie it with a twist-tie or two to hang it from a tree limb.

Make sure to tie it high enough and on a small limb where the 'possums and 'coons can't reach it.

The birds are singing up a storm as I sit at my table outside to write this. A big wood bee, the kind that makes the holes in the exposed wood on your house or out building, is buzzing around.

The sheaves are falling off of the tree leaves, looking like snow falling around me on this glorious, warm spring day. I am dreaming of getting the garden ready to plant.

But first, I am going to have one of the homemade cinnamon rolls sitting on the counter. The smell is about to overcome me.

Van Hoosier lives in rural Perry County.