Winter tends to come in with a bang. Autumn's blustery winds give way to sharper gusts, the smell of first frost laces the air, and overnight a colossal dump of snow blankets everything in sight. Ta da! It's winter, all at once, and decidedly so. But by February, the final echo from that initial wintry wallop has faded. Winter no longer dazzles us with its frigid flamboyance but lingers, stubbornly, on and on.
Spring's entrance is nowhere near as grand. It pokes its way up through the last of winter slowly, intermittently, patiently. Temperatures tentatively creep above freezing for a day or two, then shoot back down. Winter is greedy.
And so here we are in February, that oppressive month that's neither here nor there. Down in the heartland, the snow and ice have melted to reveal a sleepy, hardened landscape. The newly exposed grass is matted and brown, and the trees, stripped of their snowy frosting, stand utterly naked. Everything is awash in grey, a fitting color, I suppose, for seasonal twilight. This in between-ness weighs on me, dear ones. These days I'm feeling a little matted down myself. I know that the ground will soften and that green will grow once more, but this February twilight can make it awfully difficult to feel, viscerally, that it is so.
I am, even on my best days, woefully inept at staying in the moment. I'm a fierce planner by nature with little patience for the here and now, especially when here and now is so stagnant and dreary. My thoughts spin hopefully into the coming weeks and months. Suddenly, in my mind's eye, it is August again, and I'm back where I was six months ago, only this August is new and so am I. But today it is February, that still, silent moment between breaths, that motionless beat between exhale and inhale. At times like these, I need a bite of something that grounds me, something that roots me to this quiet in between. With the lighter, brighter greens of spring still a ways off, I turn to the hearty ruffles and rounds of winter. Frilly kale and leafy Brussels sprouts make this forced downtime feel restorative and rich. A necessary, and even welcome time out. Winter greens taste like the earth. I love that.
This week alone I've eaten kale twice and Brussels sprouts once, and come tomorrow I'm going back for more of one or the other. Because soon it will be spring, and then summer. With all those tangy berries and dribbly tomatoes coaxing me outdoors, perhaps I'll miss these inward, quiescent days of matted ground and winter greens.
1 bunch curly kale
1 T. olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A squeeze of lemon or a dribble of vinegar
Rip the kale away from the tough parts of the rib and tear the ruffly leaves into three to four inch pieces. Wash, but do not dry. Heat the oil in a pan. Place the kale in the pan and sautee until slightly wilted and the edges are a bit brown and crispy. If you prefer, you can also cover the pan with a lid and allow the kale to steam for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and top with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar before serving.
As for the Brussels sprouts, a quick pour of olive oil, a few grinds of salt and pepper, and a ten-minute roast in a very hot oven will do. If the sprouts are medium to large in side, I slice them in two before roasting.
p.s. The tech gods have smiled upon me and at last I've figured out the trick to embedding enlarge-able photographs in my posts. Click on any of these wintry green beauties for an image that's more up close and personal.