Spring Season Living
The warmth of the early Spring sun begins to melt, relax and stimulate new growth that has been nourished and rested by Winter. Spring is the re-emergence of the outward, expansive movement of warm and active yang energy. The first buds and leaves of Spring take several weeks to open and unfold, as should our transition into this season. The sap begins to rise in the trees and people begin to rise from the winter and move away from the home’s hearth.
During the long cold Winter, the energy of our body can feel frozen but with the Spring it begins to thaw and move upwards and outwards. To assist this process we begin using Spring foods with upward energy such as: sprouts, young greens (especially the tender tops of root vegetables), chives, mustard greens etc. but don’t chop them up, rather try to use them whole. We can also reflect this seasonal tendency in our choice of grains. Wheat, Rye and Barley have lighter energy than other grains and their ‘double lobed’ quality helps to nourish the lobes of the liver and gallbladder. We need to begin reducing the amount of salt being used in our cooking. A small amount of fermented food (such as homemade pickles and misos) can be helpful to release the heavy nature of our Winter energy.
We can use the sour Spring taste in condiments to help the Liver decongest after its storing of winter fats and proteins. Use lemon, lime, radish and a little umeboshi plum to flavour sauces and toppings. We need to begin cutting back on baked sweet foods to help the Gall Bladder release and relax. These sweet baked foods should be used only after days of intense physical activity gardening, wood chopping; exercise that has encouraged sweating. As the weather turns warmer, we need to balance ourselves by adding more lightly boiled vegetables, blanched greens and pressed salads rather than increasing the fruit in our diet. (There is little fruit available that is seasonal and local in the first months of Spring).
The Wood element of Spring
The tree is a symbol for the element of Wood. During its life it is rooted yet growing, reaching out and upward and downwards and inward simultaneously. It is flexible, bending, yielding to the wind, yet strong and durable containing the flow of its own life cycle. This description is similar to the description of a person. When the human being is flourishing just as a tree in the forest, the vital Qi is wholesome and clear. The human is growing and earthed, flexible and strong and carrying the seeds for new life. Hence the importance of harmonizing to the energy of Spring and allowing these traits to flourish within ourselves.