This Spring Nettle Soup is inspired by the Spring Equinox Plant Walk Presented by Fields Without Fences I attended two weeks ago, during which herbalist Lindsay explained the shift of the seasons in a beautiful way that really grabbed me.
In the tradition of Chinese medicine, Lindsay explained, the element of winter is water. The element of spring is wood. This makes sense, for as the frozen winter begins to awaken in the spring sunshine, a great thaw takes place. The water begins to move down into the earth, in its turn awakening what sleeps beneath – the roots and tubers and fungi and insects and all – spurring animation and growth to push back up through the soil and into the sun. Thus, the movement of winter into spring is the movement of water into wood (or, vegetation).
Lindsay equated this great transition to our own bodies, which are also seasonal! Winter is mainly a time for reflection and stillness, much like it is for the myriad of life outside in the forest and river and meadows. When spring arrives, the first plants to rise up bright green from the earth are predominantly bitter + pungent herbs like ground ivy, dock, dandelion, stinging nettle and wild garlic. The arrival of these plants coincides with our early spring craving for movement, sunshine, and greens to purify our winter bodies and … you guessed it … MOVE the waters within us to promote growth and awakening. What was stagnant and sluggish begins to move and energize. These bitter greens cleanse the liver and promote the production of bile, while balancing the craving for sugar; they purify the blood and improve digestion and bowel function; their rich dose of chlorophyll empowers and stimulates the lymph fluid and more.
The closer you allow yourself to become with the rhythms of your environment, the more benefit you find! Do you have a good relationship with the local land that surrounds you? Want to dig deeper?! We suggest checking in with local farms and herbalists for healing plant workshops and plant identification walks that are happening all the time around here! Check out Fields Without Fences, Locust Light Farm and Perennial Herbal Collective and Barefoot Botanicals for events and herbal (both cultivated and wild) remedies and teas. Small, local farms providing gorgeous and local vegetables, herbs and flowers can also be found all around this area, offering amazing deals through CSA shares: try Roots to River Farm, Anchor Run Farm, Tinicum CSA, and Rolling Hills Farm, to name a few!
Create a relationship with the plants and the seasons around you, and you will benefit greatly from this ever-deepening bond.
Red Hill Medical + Wellness