Winter has certainly been hanging stubbornly around our parts this year, though for the most part I am not one to spend too much time complaining about something I can not change. Weather does what it wants, no matter how I might or might not feel about it. Actually it has been a real winter this year in my view, with pretty white covering the ground and the necessity to dig into the storage trunks for the long woolen underwear, socks and sweaters to keep the body toasty warm. To me this is an invaluable investment in comfort. It makes it much nicer to go outside, for a walk or to dig the car out or shovel the driveway if one is toasty warm, but I guess that is the Norwegian in me. In fact here in Washington DC we’ve had more snow than some parts of Norway this year. My cousin relates that Bergen, on the West coast of the country, has had little if any snow, while a few miles up in the mountains to the east, the heavens dumped a few meters. But then skiing is a country-wide passion. As our new Ambassador said, when asked if it was true Norwegian’s are born with skis on; “No not at all.” he said “What most people do not know is that they are actually surgically attached at the age of 2.” It is true that most Norwegians are outfitted with skis at about that age, plunked down on the snow and told to move along. One becomes adept quickly and also learns to love it. Which is as it should be, otherwise there probably would be no one living in those snowy regions.
But all kidding aside. The weather has also been perfect for all those delicious winter foods (click for explanation), so nourishing to body and soul. There is Marrow bone soup, venison soup with anise and rosemary, French onion soup, Norwegian cabbage and mutton, Chicken cooked with saffron and Cinnamon, Black beans cooked with 5 spice blend, Cod mock Bourgogne, Parsnips with Ghee and Cumin, Collard greens with pearl onions and button mushrooms and many other recipes you can find in the recipe section. These are foods that keep the internal fire going, foods that warm the right energies according to the views of Chinese Medicine and also help the immune system brighten up and run well.
Funny with weather, Monday our area was covered in a blanket of snow. Federal government was closed, so were the local governments, the schools and the buses were not moving either. Don the warm clothes, hat and mittens and out and shovel, it’s good whole body exercise. Then one can safely come in for some hot cocoa and some Fastelavn boller (buns) filled with jam and cream. There is always room to rejoice in a job well done. Fastelavn falling on March 3rd this year and being the three last days before the Fast is an observed tradition in the three Scandinavian countries; Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Sunday, the day before the snowfall, it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit here and I had the urge to go out to say hello to the few crocuses and snowdrops that had stuck their head above ground. They were there to enjoy the sunny skies and balmy temperatures. Their enthusiastic growing gave me an urge to get my fingers dirty and I decided to turn the soil in the raised beds right then. Nothing makes me happier than to get my fingers and nails dirty in clean soil. As soon as the ground is really workable, I will sow seeds for spinach, kale and peas, early crops and stretch plastic over to keep the seeds happy. But before that I have to pull out all the thieving roots from bushes and trees nearby, who also love the compost rich soil in these beds. Otherwise the roots will strangle the little seedlings that come up. After that it is just to wait till the last snow(s) pass and we will be in business preparing for spring. The snow drops and crocuses will be fine under the blanket of snow, it will shield them from the freezing temperatures which do much greater harm. Soon spring will start in earnest.