A couple Octobers ago, surrounded by golden maple leaves and whistling breezes and the smell of bonfires in barely twilight, I was walking out to my car with a guy from my Travel Writing class. Inhaling deeply, smiling while I did, I kept telling him, in probably five different ways, how much I loved it all — the season’s smells, its temperatures, how the leaves revealed their true colors, hidden from us the rest of the year.
He listened, pretty politely I think, and then, when I’d reached a stopping point, he started talking about spring. I remember how his face changed, how his voice raised when he said green — all the different shades of green! the leaves and the grass and the trees! the newness of it all!
I have to say, while I’ve always been an autumn girl: he got me thinking. And a few months later, when the spring he’d been waiting for arrived, I saw it with his eyes.
I know that weather comes and weather goes — but that’s just the thing. Constantly, monthly, the world around us is changing, irrespective of us.
It doesn’t matter what I do; the weather marches on. January can feel like just yesterday, yet I only need to look out my window and see how far we’ve come from it (this is Day 102 of the year, how crazy is that?).
And the changes of spring in particular signal so much hope: What was dead now lives! What was barren bears fruit! What was brown and dry is flowering and green!
These are changes worth celebrating, both because they’re beautiful and because they hint at deeper truths: we are changing, we are capable of new hearts, our lives are filled with new beginnings.
And, just as we are all set against a great backdrop of The Weather, with its changes and blessings and inconveniences, so we are all part of a greater story of Life, one bigger than any one of us, one that keeps moving forward, whether we realize it or not.
My friend was definitely on to something. Spring! Spring! I see it now.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Adapted from A Sweet Spoonful
If you ask me, there’s no better way to usher in spring than with a bright green, creamy asparagus soup, studded with lemon juice and as bright and fresh as the beautiful days we’ve been having around here lately.
1 pound fresh asparagus
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoons thyme, divided
1 Tablespoon white whole wheat flour
2 cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
1/2 cup organic sour cream
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus, and cut stalks into two-inch pieces. Cook asparagus, broth, onion, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon thyme in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bringing it to a boil.
Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover, simmering for 10 minutes. Next, process mixture until smooth, using either an immersion blender (recommended!) or a food processor. Return to pan.
In a small bowl, whisk flour and milk together, and then add it slowly to the asparagus mixture, whisking until blended. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and simmer, continuing to stir for another five minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, salt, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest and remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme.
To make garnish:
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest. Top each bowl of soup with about two teaspoons of this mixture and garnish with thyme, if desired.
Yield: 4-6 servings
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.