Too often I become distracted, lose focus and end up squandering time, draining away energies. I sometimes feel as if I'm walking in my sleep. Trying to shake it off, I'm determined not to miss this early spring opportunity to get out and harvest a spring green that Mother Nature herself planted in neat crowds about the farm: the stinging nettle.
In my city garden I considered this plant an annoying weed. The spindly pale green versions I encountered there came out of the ground without a struggle, but since I rarely wear gloves in the garden I would be punished for removing them by a stinging sensation on my hands, as if tiny burning splinters had been embedded in the flesh.
What I've learned since is that these hearty greens, growing lavishly here in the more fertile soil, are delicious when steamed with a little butter and light seasoning, but are also beneficial when dried and ground into powder to be added to foods of all sorts throughout the year. In spring, when all of the new growth is concentrated in the top few inches, it is at its best. In autumn, when the strength moves back to the roots, they are the harvest worth seeking.
This morning the kitchen counter is laid with towels on which the rinsed nettles are drying a bit after their cold water bath. Then into the dehydrator. Later today I'll pick a bit more and cook it with some pasta and parmesan.