Happy First Day of Spring!
Also known as the spring equinox, today is one of two days during the year that the sun shines directly above the equator, resulting in approximately equal times for day and night (12 hours each). After the spring equinox, the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt back towards the sun, taking us into spring and then summer.
Although this day does not mark the end of cold weather just yet, winter is officially over. Longer days, warm sun, and new green growth are all on the horizon. Here are a few ways to incorporate some spring festivities into your life:
1. Plant a spring vegetable garden.
You do not have to wait until summer to begin seeing some garden bounty. Consider planting some greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce. You can plant and grow these in pots or planters, or if you have a vegetable garden plot, you can grow and harvest them before you need your plot for summer vegetables. You do not need to start any greens indoors. Just follow the directions on the seed packets and sow them directly into the soil.
Once you do plant and begin to get many sprouts, do not skip the thinning step, because this will greatly affect the quality of your harvest. There are some varieties of spinach and other greens that can be planted in very early spring, so you can enjoy many rounds of leafy greens before hot weather.
If you are new to gardening, find some seeds that are hardy, not overly prone to insects, and typically do well in Nebraska. Oftentimes, there is good information on the seed packets, but if you need help, just ask someone at a local garden store to help you pick out some good seeds for a first-time garden. The whole family can participate in gardening. My kids are more likely to try a new vegetable or dish if they have helped to grow it.
2. Find some new recipes with spring ingredients.
With a new season, it is a perfect time to refresh your recipe rotation. Find some recipes with seasonal spring ingredients. Try a new variety of greens or sprouts, such as bean or alfalfa sprouts, swiss chard, or collard greens. In early spring, you can often find ramps available at the grocery store.
In case you are unfamiliar, ramps are a wild leek with a sweet, garlicky onion flavor and are only available in the early spring. They are delicious sauteed with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can also find root vegetables such as beets, turnips, parsnips, or rutabagas readily available. All of these are simple to prepare by roasting them in the oven.
3. Take spring walks or hikes for photos and art projects.
One of our favorite family activities is to take a walk or hike on one of the many trails available in Omaha. To make it interesting, sometimes the kids will take backpacks to collect leaves, sticks, or flowers that they can either play with later or in my daughter’s case, use them for an art project.
Our kids also like to take pictures on our walks. We either let them use our phones or we have even been very brave a few times and let them have a turn with our nice camera. They choose interesting things to take pictures of, and afterward, they enjoy looking at their photos.
4. Talk to your kids about different celebrations around the world.
There are many interesting festivals and traditions on or around the spring equinox. Share some of the unique and mysterious histories of Stonehenge, where people gather every year to celebrate the beginning of each new season. During spring equinox, people go to watch the sun at dawn as it rises above the stones.
You can also share images and pictures of Chichen Itza, a Mayan pyramid where the shadow of a snake appears in the late afternoon on both equinoxes. Also in March, Northern India holds a large festival called Holi to celebrate the end of winter. They have large bonfires and throw colored powder in the air.
With the new season and warmer days soon to come, I hope you find some renewal and a new sense of vibrancy throughout the days.