Spring's Scarborough Fair
by Donna Ayres
Springtime bestows many pleasures. Among them are our spring rituals: primavera practices that reward us with excitement and a sense of wonder. For me, the ritual most symbolic of spring is the annual re-potting of my Scarborough Fair herb pot.
If you are of my generation, you'll remember these lyrics:
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.
Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 song inspired me to create a small pot-bound culinary herb garden. When I lived in the country, I'd place it in the middle of my outdoor traditional herb garden, on a rock slab resting atop a broad upright log. After moving to the suburbs, a corner of my deck became the new residence of my yearly Scarborough Fair. I'd snip its branches regularly during the spring, summer and early fall. The ready availability of nature's taste enhancers encouraged my passion for cooking.
When the frosts arrived, I'd take in my pot of herbs and place it in my sunniest window. I would then nurture it throughout its unnatural existence indoors. Although they were not in their best environment, my parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme continued to offer savory and fragrant treats during the chilly months.
I'd roast potatoes with some garlic and olive oil - not complete without the couple of branches of rosemary tossed into the pan for the last few minutes of heat. For a special poultry dish, I'd depend upon chopped sage and thyme leaves mixed with soft butter and smeared under the breast skin of a chicken before roasting. Sprigs of fresh parsley would be the perfect last minute addition to a pot of chicken soup. The house would be filled with comforting herbal aromas and tastes throughout the winter.
And then, when spring reappears, the Scarborough Fair pot must be spruced up. This is a grand excuse to visit a local nursery and check out any new herb varieties.
The thyme would have grown scrawny during its winter indoors, giving me reason to select one of the many scented thymes. Perhaps this year, I'd include a citrus-flavored thyme. The weak stunted parsley would be replaced with a new dark-green flat-leafed Italian variety. The rosemary and sage, the hardiest of the four, would have more easily survived the winter light. They'll do for another year; with the light of a new spring, they will re-flourish.
With my new spring's herbal collection complete, I'd carefully remove each old plant from the pot and set it aside while I cleaned the container. New potting soil full of food for the herbs would replace the depleted soil of last year. Last year's favorites would be relocated to one of the flowerbeds.
After gently replacing the plants into their pot of fresh soil, I would
allow my Scarborough Fair herb garden to take up residence outdoors, where
it truly belonged. My favorite spring ritual had again renewed both my plants
| Issue 14 |
Volume VII Number 14
April 8-14, 1999
New Bay Times
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