Celebrating the arrival of spring
In New Zealand we officially celebrate the first day of spring on September 1. Many other countries go with the spring equinox, which this year occurs on September 23.
Regardless of the date, spring brings us out of the doldrums of winter. The weather may be fickle, blustery and wet but the lengthening days trigger the release of serotonin in our brains, which helps us to feel happier and puts a spring in our step. (In winter, when the days are short, our melatonin levels rise, making us feel sleepy.)
The correlation between the change of season and a more sunny outlook on life is so strong that, in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the first day of spring should become International Happiness Day.
Watching baby lambs gambol around in soft new grass and birds fluttering about with debris clutched in their beaks to build their nests, it’s hard not fall in love with nature. New life springs forth everywhere, and the world feels joyful and optimistic.
In my own garden there is something new to marvel at daily, as the landscape shakes off its dusky grey coat and takes on a mantle of green in new spring growth. A stretch of the hillside reads like a soft, pale-pink blanket as the almond orchard comes into blossom. After months lying dormant, my vegetable garden has suddenly come alive with self-sown mache and miner’s lettuce, ready to pick for a sweet, tender salad. (These greens both germinate at very low soil temperatures so are ideal seeds to sprinkle when the soil is still cold.) The first paperwhite daffodils and hyacinths have pushed up through the cold earth, filling the air with their glorious scent. It’s thrilling to go out every day and see what’s new.
If you’ve ever been to Sweden on the first day of spring, you will have seen the spectacle of people coming out from their winter’s hibernation in droves, openly hugging each other on the streets, laughing and singing. While our winters aren’t anywhere near as challenging as they are in Scandinavia, there’s still good cause for celebration as we say goodbye to winter and welcome in the new season.
What better way to celebrate spring’s arrival than to gather some friends together and share an evening of delicious food and good company. Tantalise your taste buds with fresh raw shoots and leaves and the tastiest of spring chicken pies, with a refreshing creamy pink grapefruit sorbet to finish.
Happiness and smiles all round.
This zingy sorbet is so creamy and silky smooth it’s hard to believe there’s not a skerrick of fat in it. It will keep in the freezer for weeks —just blitz it up a couple of hours before serving and watch it transform to the lightest creamy, pale pink bliss.
Accompany with roasted beetroot and baby carrots, or alternatively mashed potato and lightly cooked broccoli. This pie also works well with rabbit. De-bone and cut into pieces using the same weight as chicken.
The boursin cream will keep for at least a week in the fridge and also makes a great spread for crackers or toast.