5.28.15 Spring Things
Do you want the good news or the bad news? Let's get the bad news over with. The beautiful little eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) outside our kitchen window gave up the ghost. Its vivid pink blossoms, one of the earliest harbingers of spring, failed to appear last year. We chalked it up to the same late frost that destroyed many apple blossoms, since the tree eventually leafed out, its broad, heart-shaped greenery a welcome source of summer shade, But this year, there were again no blossoms and no leaves either. Further investigation revealed deep vertical cracks running up both sides of the trunk. Apparently, it's not entirely unusual for strong winds to cause this, though it certainly feels deeply unjust. The skeletal branches are a sad reminder of how much I will miss our dear tree, a friend to birds and butterflies, and a bosom companion to this solitary writer. Now, on to the good...
Remember this amazing creature? If you follow me on instagram (@laurasilverman), you may have seen the photo I posted about 40 weeks ago. Since then, it spun a large brown cocoon on the outside of my office window to house its impressive 4-inch length, and spent the winter there, partially protected by a semi-open storm window.
Last week, this glorious vision emerged from the cocoon! It's a cecropia moth, the largest North American moth. The slightly larger females—which this one turned out to be—have a wingspan that can exceed 6 inches. She was mesmerizing! But after three days I started to worry that something was wrong as she had not budged from her spot and did not seem to have eaten a single morsel.
And then this happened. Her mate showed up! Turns out that, like all members of the Giant Silk Moth family, adult cecropia moths lack functional mouthparts or digestive systems; they exist simply to reproduce. Once emerged, the female releases a pheromone that attracts the male to her. They mate and stay together for 24 hours. Then she lays her eggs. And that is all. This beauty survives on earth for just two weeks.
I watched in awe as all this transpired. Such a gift to be reminded of nature's mysterious ways.
In a radical move of self-care, I brewed up an enormous batch of tea from nettles and spruce tips, drank the better part of a gallon in one day, and essentially cured myself of all allergy symptoms. It was incredible. One minute my nose was running like a raging river, my eyes were itching and I felt like hell. An hour later, all was clear. Apparently, there is nothing more effective for allergy relief than nettles, so my instincts were correct. And they will not hurt you (unless you pick them without gloves). You can buy dried organic nettles here, if you'd like to try it yourself. The recipe for my allergy tea is below.
In other news, I had a book signing at Tay Home in Andes, the inspired modern tea shop owned by my dear friend Nini Ordoubadi. A great group of people came by and we talked about summer entertaining and sipped a tea-infused cocktail (made with jasmine-infused vodka, chamomile syrup and lime juice).
Nini has just come back from a trip to Africa and her store has an entire little room filled with treasures she found. (See her necklace, above.) I left with a bag full of her amazing tea blends. Among my favorites are Muse, Persian Rose and Better Than Sex.
The night before, we enjoyed another great dinner at Brushland Eating House and spent the night in their sweet rental apartment. Amazingly, the smell of apple blossoms and lilacs seemed to fill the whole town of Bovina.
Not to bury the lead, but I'm thrilled to announce the launch of DV8 Magazine, a publication started by my talented friend Nhi Mundy (who also has a couple of fabulous Vietnamese restaurants in my neck of the woods). The name stands for Delaware Valley 8, and the aim is to cover the upstate scene in and around eight local towns in the Upper Delaware Valley region where we live.
I am the editor and wrote much of the first issue, but I look forward to commissioning stories for our next one, slated to be out Labor Day weekend. You can read some content online, pick up an issue at one of the upstate or NYC locations listed on the site, or even mail-order one here.
And one more bit of news: I completed a 3-day Master Preserver workshop through Cornell Cooperative Extension last week and am now raring to go with the pressure canner I bought in January. This means I can do low-acid canning—including stocks, salsas and fish—so stay tuned for more details on that.
Hope you are enjoying some beautiful spring weather. We had a big, fat dose of rain yesterday and the green has really popped. My herbs are in and the garden feels like it's off to a good start! Tell me how you are celebrating the change of season, my friends...
- — 4 cups dried stinging nettles
- — 1 cup dried spruce tips
- — 1 cup dried lemon balm
- — 1 cup dried chamomile flowers
Combine all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
Brew by steeping in hot water for half an hour, or until desired strength is attained. Use about 1 tablespoon per cup of water. (Bear in mind that chamomile can become bitter when brewed for a long time.)
Strain and stir in some local honey, if desired.