Open Thread: Spring Has Sprung

We are 29 days past the vernal equinox. The moon is just past full at 99.2% and waning.

Some of us are observing Ramadan, some of us are observing Passover’s third day, and some of us are celebrating Easter today. Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter a week from today.

My household is secular lapsed Catholic; my adult children will be here to observe the holiday. It’ll be the second holiday we’ve been able to spend together since the pandemic began. It’s the first time I can think of when there hasn’t been a single candy Easter egg in this house.

It’s just as well there are no extra calories here because we’re going to indulge our omnivore natures and gorge on standing rib roast with apple pie for dessert.

Whatever benchmark or holiday you observe, with family or by yourself, feel free to shout out here in this open thread.

Wishing the rest of your spring season warmer, lighter, safe, and restorative.

115 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    By the way, the photo on the front page attached to this post is by photographer Aaron Burden. You can find him at Unsplash; he’s from Baltimore MD and he’s available for hire. I love his work, including photos he’s taken in Michigan.

    • civil says:

      I love the spring, and that photo reminds me of the bulb farms in MI, which have huge expanses of tulips, daffs, … this time of year. If it’s OK to share a few other botanical photos, here are some wonderful photos of bark and trees:
      And I love Karl Blossfeldt’s book Art Forms in Nature, published almost a century ago; his B&W plant photos have a very sculptural feel:

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Several years ago, while I was house and pet sitting in a place with many trees, I found an intriguing chunk of bark on the ground. It’s about half the size of my fist. There are 2 knots that look like eyes, with an indentation in between that resembles a nose. A broken knot beneath the “nose” curves into a half opened mouth. A natural sculpture. It felt like a gift.

        So, I picked it up and set it on a porch railing. Then I went about whatever pet and house sitters do, for the rest of the day. The next morning I went to look for it but it was gone. I asked my buddy, the dog, if he knew where it was. He smiled. I gave him a blinky-blink that the cats taught me. And he blinky blinked back. I think it was code for “loose lips sink ships.”

        But that was clue enough for me. I immediately went to the place I had originally found the “all bark, no bite.” And, sure enough, there it was. I keep it on a shelf to remind me how infinitely creative existence is. On some days it looks like the partial face of an owl. On other days it looks like the head of a reptile.

        • Mark says:

          Thankyou… animals are amazing, very amusing tail.

          I carve, and I often think of the time and effort that went into growing the wood, compared to my feeble investment.

          And…. You are a good story teller.

  2. Alan Charbonneau says:

    My wife’s parents were from Ukraine and she is making babka, a sweet bread traditionally served at Easter.

    She flew back from California yesterday and met a refugee family from Ukraine at DFW. Via Google translate, she found that they came in from Mexico and have family in Austin. It’s sad and heartwarming at the same time.

    • Rayne says:

      Yum! I love babka! I haven’t made that in years, should do that soon – maybe for Orthodox Easter.

  3. Xboxershorts says:

    Happy Easter, everyone.

    We got an inch of snow and it’s still falling, here in Potter County, PA.

    Hope to God I won’t need the shovel. Ugh!

    Someday soon…….I’m going where the weather suits my clothes.

  4. jhinx says:

    Made homemade biscuits for breakfast. The secret to non-leaden biscuits is the flour: winter wheat. I use WhiteLily; couldn’t find it locally but was able to order online. Tried different recipes and settled on one with some tweaks. If anyone’s interested I’ll post it.

      • jhinx says:

        Yes, the lower protein is key. I’ll keep in mind the all-purpose/cake flour mix in the event the WhiteLily runs out (which is inevitable).

      • blueedredcounty says:

        I think you can also make the equivalent of cake flour by adding corn starch to all purpose flour (increases the percent of starch to protein). I saw this in a pound cake recipe that called for cake flour.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, if one is desperate to bake biscuits they can swap out 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

          I’m never that desperate because I’d rather make yeasted rolls. Made my famous pumpkin Parker House rolls to go with the rib roast yesterday.

        • blueedredcounty says:

          Those sound delicious!

          Saturday I got up early to bake a batch of brownies. I was getting my hair cut and brought some to my friend who cuts my hair. For Easter, went over to some other friends for the traditional ham (yum!), and brought a good Napa wine and more brownies for dessert.

          I’m in San Diego, so the weather is pretty much perfect. Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Ramadan, and Happy Spring to everyone.

        • Rayne says:

          It still has to be the same ratio of protein. Swansdown or any other cake flour alone won’t offer it unless mixed with all-purpose flour. Otherwise biscuits would be too tender and end up more like cake.

    • Silly but True says:

      A very quick biscuit recipe I learned from my brother-in-law is is 2 cups Bisquick, 1/2 cup 7Up, and 1/2 cup sour cream.

      They turn out great for their simplicity.

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    Hoping this is a timely metaphor for the struggle between democracy and autocracy:

    “Scientists crack egg forging evolutionary puzzle” – Apr 11, 2022

    “As many humans prepare to unwrap their Easter eggs, scientists have solved one of nature’s biggest criminal cases, an egg forgery scandal two million years in the making. Their findings suggest that the victims of this fraud may now be gaining the upper hand.”
    “Cuckoo finches are missing out on a powerful source of evolutionary novelty and that could prove costly in this ongoing arms race. The way they inherit their ability to mimic host eggs has a downside by likely making the grass-warblers’ defenses more effective, and constraining the parasite’s ability to respond.”

  6. DrFunguy says:

    Still waiting for spring weather here on Vancouver Island. We had about 5cm of snow last week and overnight lows are below zero (C) which makes nursery work and management challenging. And yet, the miracles continue: swallows returning, plants sprouting, even a few mushrooms popping in the yard.
    And emptywheel keeps me hopeful that not all of my fellow humans have gone nuts.
    Happy Spring to all!

      • DrFunguy says:

        I feel very fortunate to live here, twenty minutes from the Salish Sea and forty from the subalpine.
        Some of my neighbors got to watch Orcas in the Georgia Strait all day yesterday. Across the one lane road from our little farm is a salmon stream, eagles nest nearby. I have picked chanterelles, (two species of) porcini and cauliflower mushrooms on the property…Truly a biologists paradise.

        “Its the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places.”
        Ed Abbey

        • bmaz says:

          Ha, Ed was a friend of my mother’s, and I got to meet him down in Tucson a few times back in the early 80s. Usually at a bar near campus named The Green Dolphin. Have you read Desert Solitaire?

        • DrFunguy says:

          Oh yes, I’m a big fan. I think I’ve read all of his work, fiction and essay. Never met him though. You are very fortunate.
          Also lived three years each in Kanab and Moab so got to see some of what he wrote about up close and personal, though of course there were a _lot_ more roads by then. When I worked for Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument I tried to incorporate some of his quotes in some interpretive displays. Wiser heads decreed him too controversial…

        • bmaz says:

          I was lucky. Just intended to go see him at his campus office, but he said let’s get a beer. There was a giant pitcher involved.

          I hiked all around there/Canyonlands long ago, and also, along with a friend, had a houseboat on Lake Powell for about a dozen years. Even just boating on Powell, you could feel Abbey there. I kind of want to go back up there again (have not been up to Powell/Page at all since maybe 2005 or so, and not on the lake even then), but the water level is so disastrously low, not sure I will.

        • DrFunguy says:

          I recall reading an account by (or featuring?) Wendell Berry soon after, I’ll check this one out, thanks!

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          I had not read that account – thanks so much for sharing. Having hiked the Cabeza Prieta with the Boy Scouts in the 70s, I understand why Ed would be happy resting there. I always think of Ajo when remembering that neck of the woods – it was our stopping point for dinner on our way to Rocky Point (was it the Copper Cafe?). We would leave Phoenix in the afternoon, and get to wake up at the beach the next day. In Ajo, the mines were still active then, and as a boy I loved to see them dumping the slag down the hillside at night – it was like a fireworks show.

          Having read Desert Solitaire a number of times by the late 80s, it was bittersweet to finally make it to Arches for the first time just after Edward Abbey’s passing in 1989.

        • HW3 says:

          There is a whole lot to dig into among Wallace Stegner’s group of writing students – Abbey, Berry, Kesey, McMurtry…

        • DrFunguy says:

          I thought of mentioning Stegner. He made the most refined distillation of the rugged individualist ranching philosophy: ‘Get out and give us more money!’

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          I love Stegner’s books. I finally read “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” recently, and it didn’t disappoint.

          IMHO, there are few authors that describe the look and feel of the desert as well as Edward Abbey. Stegner is one. Another for me is John C. Van Dyke in his 1901 tome “The Desert.”

        • DrFunguy says:

          I think The Big Rock Candy Mountain is one of the great american novels; Stegner was an under-rated master. As Berry wrote, critics would call him the Dean of Western writers (dismissing him as of only regional importance) and the misspell his name. Of course Beyond The Hundredth Meridian is seminal history- as biography of John Wesley Powell, european exploration of the last ‘blank spot’ on the map (don’t tell the Paiute, Hopi and Dineh) and the unsustainable foundation of federal water policy.
          Unfortunately, his historical novel about Joe Hill seems quite biased against the IWW. But what do I know?

  7. HW3 says:

    I still love spring but it was much more dramatic when I lived in the midatlantic than it is here in the PNW. I mean, ornamentals still have their ephemeral period of going nuts but the native plants are much more slow and steady. Not that the pollen isn’t everywhere!

  8. Ed Walker says:

    It’s April in Paris, and the chestnuts are in blossom. Also glorious purple bunches of wisteria in the alley around the corner.

    • Rayne says:

      Must be gorgeous there now. Wish Unsplash had a Parisian spring photo with the chestnuts in bloom.

      • Rayne says:

        I’m planning a trip to Europe late this year depending on COVID, though. You may have this place all to yourself. LOL

        • Former AFPD says:

          This former AFPD travelled from San Francisco to Greenwich, London, on the banks of the Thames, to visit son and family who moved here in January for work. First of all, I’m so incredibly proud that another former AFPD is now on the USSC. We have to be incredibly covid careful still, as our grandbaby is not quite yet 5, so still not vaccinated. Greenwich is filled with voices from across the globe, the trees and flowers are in bloom, yet the specter of Ukraine is ever present. Happy spring to you all, and thank you for your continuing meaningful and intelligent discussions about issues that matter. I appreciate it.

        • bmaz says:

          It is barely 6 am here, still hazy eyed and initially thought AFPD meant Air Force Police! Until saw the reference to KBJ. At any rate, join us more often, the water is good here.

        • Max404 says:

          I know, you’re the guy who likes Schreiner’s Sausage. Since moving to Berlin sausage I get whenever I want, and good. I was angling for a visit from Rayne, since she’s coming to Europe, she says.

        • bmaz says:

          Schreiners is really good. Still. Only open Wed through Sat now. We now also go there for ingredients for our home pizza oven adventures. Do you know Jillian York in Berlin?

        • Rayne says:

          Berlin would be fun but I’m afraid my traveling companion has acquired an aversion to traveling in Germany (thanks to an ex-spouse who was German and would only travel if Germany was included in the itinerary). Will probably be Scotland, France, or Portugal depending on a handful of circumstances with COVID being most important.

        • East House says:

          Visited Portugal last fall and had a wonderful experience. Fado music in Lisbon, toured palaces in Sintra, relaxed in the surf town of Peniche, and did some sea kayaking down in the Algarve. Coffee is fantastic as well. Highly recommend!

    • Epicurus says:

      For Mr. Walker in particular, and others in general so interested, there is a wonderful French political site called Tocgueville 21. Art Goldhammer on the site is a terrific observer of things French (as well as being honored by the French for his translations from French to English and vice versa). I have a book The Birth of Purgatory by Jacques Le Goff translated by him.

  9. Lawnboy says:

    The Lawnboy built up two planters today using, salix discolor, betula papirifera, and red cornus. The “Kids” are coming over so I needed to put on a show. Hint: always use odd numbers of the anchor plant in your design. Final touch, a nice jag of pansies to add a splash of colour.

    Be advised, if you are planning to use a dormant hort oil, you must stop using it once the forsythia buds emerge. We have Gypsy Moth issues and the birch trees seem to be romaine lettuce to them, hence the oil this year.

    And ” There’s only two good times to plant an oak tree. Thirty years ago and today”


    • earthworm says:

      Right you are, Lawnboy. Only plant even if it is a flanking planting, and Trees are the Answer.

    • Leoghann says:

      Those must have been big beds!

      I’ve seen a number of northern-transplant tree guys (I hesitate to call them horticulturists or arborists) pre-disaster their reputations by treating pecans too late with dormant oil, to protect against pests that aren’t a problem in Texas.

  10. Ddub says:

    There’s a storm approaching. Anticipation of thunder and lightning and a good drenching.
    Sometimes storms remind me of my beloved grandfather, now 15 years since his passing. He would try to teach me to count the lightning, then laugh and say I was too fast. I’ll try again this evening Don <3

  11. Pete T says:

    No chocolate bunnies or peeps of any color gave their all in our house today And eggs are too darn expensive to hard boil and color though I do like HB eggs.

    Can’t say the same for a mighty fine brisket Friday night. Elijah didn’t show – again – so I copped his glass of wine during cleanup.

  12. BobCon says:

    I was planning on dying eggs but I made the mistake of leaving them j-u-s-t within reach of our foster dog while I had my back turned, and she knocked them off the counter and ate two, shells and all, and smashed the others.

    My fault for not watching more carefully, but dammit dammit dammit.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL I almost wish I had been there to experience the fun. My kids brought their dogs today; fortunately my eldest wasn’t dog sitting like they had for Thanksgiving. My otherwise plenty-big house felt a big tight with 300 lbs of dog running around while we were trying to prepare and eat turkey. Today I only had to worry about my youngest’s Australian shepherd mix pup and her rather l o n g nose getting too close to the roast on the counter.

      • vvv says:

        Wonderful breed, the Australian Shepherd; ours is now about 20 months. Is your youngest ‘s mix a little high-strung? Ours is actually diag’d with anxiety. (For the punters, it’s the dog in the Duck Duck Go commercial that is, “none of our business”.)

        • Rayne says:

          Oh, I’m sure my youngest’s Aussie Shep mix is the photo next to the definition of ‘anxiety’. She was a rescue from Texas, has had problems with sharing water/food, separation anxiety, and it hasn’t helped that my youngest’s roommate is rather undisciplined about helping care for her and thinks it’s all a lark.

          Let’s say it was a high-energy holiday. LOL

  13. Raven Eye says:

    The past 10 days or so in Southern Oregon we’ve had yo-yo weather. Had to pay attention to the forecast and also the home weather station’s display panel before stepping out.

    Saturday morning was spent staffing one far-away intersection of the 100K route for an annual charity bike ride. At about the 1500 ft level, in the hills-to-mountain area west of I-5, I could look around and see the lower fringes of the last snow about 300 feet higher than me. Colder than the past two rides, but quiet, with sun and clouds playing, birds doing bird business in the pastures — not bad.

    Unfortunately it was late snow, and in the West rain and late snow are like payday loans. Winter snow is an investment.

    I’d like to see an Easter miracle next week: Perhaps the clouds will part and a shaft of light will bring Patriarch Kirill to understand that he is supporting and enabling a mass murderer.

    • punaise says:

      Unfortunately it was late snow, and in the West rain and late snow are like payday loans. Winter snow is an investment.

      Nice analogy. Here in central/northern CA the snow pack also reigns, but with reservoirs less than full I don’t think the spring rain goes to waste. (IANAH: I am not a hydrologist). The extra foot or so of snow extends the ski season, but is that final topping off of the snow pack any less valuable than what accumulated in our huge late October storms?

      Here in the Bay Area I liken the near-inch of rain we got on tax day to giving our green hills an extension before they go brown.

      • matt fischer says:

        The live oak-strewn rolling hills of Northern California are one of many blessings of living in the Bay Area. They seemed especially beautiful yesterday when I visited Tomales for an Easter gathering on a small old farm. The recent touch of rain helped dapple the hills with a lovely spectrum of colors, including from California poppies. I could never tire of this beauty.

    • christopher rocco says:

      Spent all last week on the coast in Southern Oregon (Gold Beach) cutting up, splitting and stacking wood from two big trees that came down in the late winter storms. Rain, hail, a little snow, sunshine and more rain (all in the same afternoon) made the work challenging. Steelhead for supper made it worthwhile.

  14. Duke says:

    There is a beauty in adulting when you choose to create new traditions.
    May every family have their own traditions which don’t stifle growth an flexibility. Resilience is a desirable trait.

        • punaise says:

          One series at a time, but it must come to pass. The Suns are potent and impressive, and the Warriors are finally healthy and clicking on nearly all cylinders.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          The Green Team will win it all?
          Pretty chilly for Kyrie at the Garden yesterday.
          Plenty of hot-blooded fans for a well-deserved
          round of trash talking.

        • punaise says:

          Oopsie, Pelicans stole a game from the Suns. It won’t change the outcome of the series, but OK to have to work a little harder!

  15. Frank M says:

    Happy Spring to all. Been praying for an end to the war in Ukraine. My birthday is next week. Thinking about a new book to me, “Wind, Sand, and Stars” by Antoine de St. Expury (sp). I heard it was a great book. Hoping for an improving 2022, this website is an island of comfort, thank you.

    • Rayne says:

      Happy birthday in advance, hope you’ll treat yourself to that de Saint-Exupéry book. I guess I’d forgotten none of his works are in public domain because the earliest was published in 1926; he was awarded special status in France as well, received a 30-year extension on copyright in France because he’s seen as a hero having died in 1944 while serving as an aerial spy, IIRC. I might have to get a copy of the same text thanks to your reminder.

  16. Jan says:

    I have an eggbread from our neighbours, Ukranian Canadians, we’ve been neighbours for 30 years. We cut pussywillows from our yard for her for every Easter weekend, she gives us bread. This year, it’s an exchange that brought tears, for the the first time. I’m ashamed, maybe we both are. Happy Easter to all, thank you for all you do.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh I miss cutting pussy willows, no longer have one in my yard! What a fun swap! Glad you were able to celebrate with eggbread.

  17. ernesto1581 says:

    Pissing in the snow
    outside my door–
    it makes a very straight hole

    The snow is melting
    and the village is flooded
    with children

    In this world
    we walk on the roof of hell,
    gazing at flowers

    (kobayashi issa)

  18. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Great hopeful thread.

    Right now in Cleveland Heights, it’s 42 degrees and the rain is slated to turn to snow!

    But the daffodils are up, yesterday’s brisket melted in the mouth, and, my flower seeds arrive any day now. Alas, opening day for our scrappy pick-up softball game was postponed. (It has been going on for 31 years!) Maybe next Sunday?

    Flowers figure into several of my photographic bodies of work, so spring is the harbinger of lots of creativity, and, eventually lots of dahlias, bee balm, zinnias, geraniums, fuschia, clio, (etc.) and various wildflowers. The transformation of our backyard is something to witness.

    “Spring can’t come soon enough!” is my boyish way—I’m 67—of announcing my optimistic hope in our world of troubles and challenges.

    • Rayne says:

      My bean seeds are on their way, in the mail; the grass this past week finally looked green though it will be covered in white tonight. No golfing this weekend because the family didn’t feel like walking a soggy course (no carts allowed until conditions dry up around here).

      Looking forward to seeing daffodils here in another 2-3 weeks — I envy you yours. Enjoy them and leftover brisket. :-)

    • grennan says:

      By coincidence, I just located a brisket to cook on my 67th birthday later this week. Queen Elizabeth turns 90-something on the same day, and if there’s one thing we know about her celebration, it’s that she will *not* be cooking a brisket.

  19. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Lovely thread. Savored it.

    Saw a headline at digital (US) Financial Times: “Alex Jones’ InfoWars files for bankruptcy protection”. Came right over to spread the cheery news.

    Also, nice item on Jim Farley (@FORD) in NYT on 4/18, focusing on upcoming EV production and how much @FORD is counting on the F150-Lightning.
    IMVHO, @FORD greatly undervalued with common shares below $16 USD.
    Also, GM will be rolling out EV’s later this year. (IMVHO, GM also greatly undervalued at present.)

    Take that, fossil oligarchs!

      • P J Evans says:

        That was my first thought: he’s hidden most of it. Or done like the coal mine owners: spin off all the assets into a new company, and leave the old one with all the liabilities.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The BK judge has to accept the filing after an investigation, and given the publicity (and probable legal filing from the families) the judge may not go for this. I’ll agree this is shell company BS to dodge paying, but wasn’t Jones also sued as an individual? IIRC, court judgements are not dischargeable in a BK11 or BK7, and I’m pretty sure the Sandy Hook lawyers know how to get Jones personally.

        OT, my daughter just go a bunch of coupons from an outfit called for the “420 Extravaganja”. How is this even legal as a solicitation to essentially engage in drug dealing, even in CA? Should I feed them to the DEA? Of course one can “opt out’ using a QR code but there’s no way I’m going to scan anything.

  20. tinao says:

    Green Going

    The fleet loosed
    a path
    Island mist
    World prayer goes up.
    Right side of history
    means something.

  21. Geoguy says:

    A spring benchmark for us is when we get the call from South Jersey that the Red Knots have arrived on their trip from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic. They stop for a few days to feast on horseshoe crab eggs. It’s almost always after Easter when the Delaware Bay has warmed up a bit.

  22. Leoghann says:

    This was barely an Easter for me, in a must un-springly spring. Having had surgery on my arm Friday, I took it very easy through the weekend (keep the arm up, don’t get anything wet, keep that hand dry!), mostly on the couch. I alternated between listening to music while reading, and watching some TV.

    Until I moved here in 2015, I had never lived anywhere that had four actual seasons, of relatively equal length. It still surprises me sometimes how Ma Nature manages it. I was raised in an area where the spring warming brings high winds and blowing dust, so even when things flower, the flowers become damaged in a day or two. So I really enjoy watching the mountainsides come alive and fill with color.

    Our spring started early this year–we hadn’t had a freeze since mid-March–and it’s been very dry. I’ve landscaped with mostly native plants, except for the roses I’ve added to the rose bed, and things began budding out nicely around the first. Then, last Tuesday night, we had a freeze. Not a light frost, but 25°F. I lost about half the color I had planted, but that’s replaceable. My far bigger concern is for all the small native trees. Some of them only lost a few inches from the tips of their brances. But others show serious damage. When buds start to appear again, I’ll have quite a pruning project.

    Oh yes. And at about 10:00 Monday morning, a fire was discovered in the national forest, a few miles north of here. The windy, dry weather has really helped it spread. At the least, we’ll be in for some uneasy days.

    • Lawnboy says:


      FWIW, you seem like an experienced Gardner, are your plant choices native to your hardiness zone? That frost can byte ya. I was an arborist in the foothills of the Rockies and man that was tough sledding.

      My fav perennial garden was public, that being the Great Divide trail on the way to Mt. Robson (Berg Lake) BC. Gods paint brush. Google has fine images of it and Waterton National Park, my second choice.

      Rest up


      • Leoghann says:

        Yes, spent 40+ years in landscape in Texas. My plants here are all local natives, except for the roses. This freeze was a real surprise, and was several degrees below freezing. Even the vegetation in the surrounding national forest land has dead tips. It’s all in the surprise gift bag we bought as a result of ignoring climate change. Lucky for me, I’m adaptable.

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