For most folks the first sign of spring usually involves the sighting of a robin or the emergence of a delicate crocus poking through a languishing patch of snow. That’s not going to be the case for me this year.
As this trying winter comes to a close the first sign of spring, at least in my opinion, will be the absence of the persistent and whiny hiss of pipes coming through my office wall. That momentous day will arrive when people in towns across the Northwoods will be instructed to turn off their “pencil wide” stream of water.
I admit it. This noise has had an irritating and nagging effect on me over the last few weeks. When the running water request was first put into action, the question “Did you leave the water going?” was a constant one as co-workers excited the restroom.
And that proved to be an unsettling inquiry for me. I can recall one winter when the pipes froze on my grandpa’s farm and my cousins and I hauled bucket after bucket of water to an entire herd of milk cows for several mornings and evenings in a row. The slurping noises those cows made as they sucked down a five gallon bucket in less than a minute is still ingrained in my head. It took many trips to the milk house sink to quench the thirsts of those beasts and my arms and back ached for days after that chore.
So hearing the persistent hiss of running water through the walls makes me a little uneasy for some reason. It brings my mind back to the days of double the work on the farm during the winter months and how everyone thought they were going insane until finally the cold was broken by soft spring breezes and the honking of geese overhead.
Those days also remind of an elderly neighbor who was a big believer in spring tonics.
I don’t know what these villainous concoctions were made from but they tasted horrible. One time I asked this man why he drank the stuff and I can distinctly recall him telling me “to kill the worms and strengthen the blood.”
There is some truth to this. Consuming spring tonics used to be a very real ritual across the land, particularly for those living in rural areas. The intent of a good tonic was to “purify” the blood and kick start sluggish livers. They were also used as an energy burst for the upcoming spring season which required more physical labor.
One particular favorite tonic was mixing black strap molasses with sulfur. Back in the day most spring tonics weren’t known for their stellar taste and this one was particularly disgusting. This elixir was dosed out on tablespoons and could barely be swallowed due to its syrupy consistency.
Other tonics included making teas from nettles, dandelion greens and early spring herbs. Supposedly these mixtures were rich in the vitamins and minerals needed after a long winter.
I decided a couple of weeks ago to get a head start on the tonic season. I don’t know if my liver is sluggish or my blood needs purifying but I do know I needed a little pick me up in the energy department. While nettles and dandelion leaves are weeks away, I purchased a tasty detox tea and I’ve included the recipe I use to make my tonic for this week. Sometimes I have a couple of cups a day and I’ve also noticed this is soothing when suffering from the cold or flu.
The other morning, while sipping my tonic and looking at the enormous piles of snow that ring my driveway, I got to thinking about this upcoming spring season. Right now, in my mind, it seems impossible that all this snow will be melting away. It seems impossible that robins will return and the purple crocus and yellow daffodil will eventually poke through the wet soil. But they will…they always do.
And while they will be welcome signs indeed, shutting off the bathroom faucet will be the most welcome one of all.
2 teas bags of detox tea
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. coconut oil
Place the tea bags in a large mug and pour boiling water over the bags. Mix in the remaining ingredients and let the mixture steep for three to five minutes.
**Last week the flour ingredient was accidentally omitted from the Dog Biscuit recipe. The correct amount is 1 to 2 cups or until the dough is stiff.