Words By Erin Propp & Travis Rogers Photographs Pauline Boldt
In some climates, the arrival of the spring season is like awakening from the dead. Our writer rolls out a list of ideas for celebrating and marking the new season.
Erin Propp’s daily life is a testament to the joys reaped from pursuing even the most mundane domestic activities with fresh eyes, intentionality and disregard for what may be considered modern conveniences. A singer and songwriter by trade, Erin lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the arrival of the spring season is like awakening from the dead. One must take advantage of the slowly lengthening days, the warmer afternoons, the surprise of fresh growth all over again, arriving just when you’re sure it will never return. As soon as she can, Erin sets about renewing herself by turning the house inside out, as it were, and making herself at home in the outside world. She and her husband read aloud to each other by an outdoor fire, grow a hearty, shaded garden and welcome friends and family to join around their open table. In youth, our mothers may have urged us to help with spring-cleaning; now we need promptings toward the personal revival that comes when simple spring tasks are reexamined.
Dry laundry on the line There is something about seeing your work in front of you, hung, clean, fresh, blowing in the breeze, appreciating the industry of wind as it works for you.
Read out loud Share a book with your friend or partner and take turns reading out loud to one another. Learn to listen again, to hear the words, like listening to an old radio show.
Eat in season Unless you’re a canning demon or hunt and salt your own meat, it is very difficult to eat in season in our climate throughout the year. We start more vigorously to eat in-season food in the springtime, making a weekly trip to a home-grown market. This changes my regular shopping route, is usually more expensive and makes me change my recipes, but it also forces me to slow down, consider what we are putting in our bodies, and often times I meet new people in the new places I end up in. I don’t even think of it in those terms—I just love going to my favorite markets when they finally open in May and June.
Plant a garden The time spent getting to know seeds, soil and even self in the garden is a worthwhile pastime. Most-used growth: scant strawberries and raspberries for toppings on baked oatmeal and desserts, and basil and rosemary for pizzas and roasts.
Help a child Labor + nature = capital for our souls, minds and hearts. Invest in something important by helping a child (perhaps your own) with his or her homework. Because let’s be honest—algebra is as rooted and indecipherable in our own lives as are the stars in the sky.
Clean your home On the first warm Saturday, grab a broom and sweep out all large closets, the garage and other storage areas. You’ll find space, and perhaps treasured photos and keepsakes you forgot you had. Your home is part of your memories, your stories and your life. Explore it a bit.
Dance Take the bicycle or motorcycle out for a nice ride in the still-chilly morning air; take a walk after dinner to notice the return of creatures small and large, and the flowers beginning their growth from underground, in fantastic intimacy. Spring is a return to motion for all.
Bring the outside in Put some small potted flowers in favored spots around the house or apartment; it’s a great way to add instant color and, quite literally, the smell of spring.
Visit a neighbor Some move away; others move in next door and sing opera at one in the morning—all the more reason to bring a small gift and a smile. At the very least, you can cultivate a friendship and sing opera together.
Try new food Infuse new recipes into your kitchen for the year. Consider starting with a dessert, because frankly, chocolate and its sweet cousins are kings of the world. Try this French-originated dish: tarte aux figues (fig tart). Make or purchase a large thin pastry crust, top with fig jam, then with sliced fresh figs. Sprinkle generously with sugar and melted butter, and then brush the edges of the crust with one egg yolk. In 30 minutes at a medium heat you shall have a tasty and simply made dessert, to inspire a year of satisfyingly rich dinner-table memories.