February is arguably the dreariest month of the year, and at this point my family and friends in the United States and Europe are paralyzed with winter fatigue. While winters here in the Galilee are generally mild, this past month we’ve been treated to several snowstorms and in recent days I’ve even had to pull out an extra blanket.
But aside from the night chill, the usual associations with winter do not apply here. For true locavores, this season actually represents the onset of a long and fertile spring. Since December I have been gathering chicory, wild spinach, mallow and asparagus. And when the cold sets in, I sip tea steeped with the zaatar and white savoury from my garden, which have come back to life after languishing all summer.
Yesterday, the first really warm and sunny day in weeks, I took a foraging walk and happily discovered that some of my favorite wild edibles have gotten a second wind. Mallow and chicory grow freely all winter long, but the wild spinach that I’d gathered months ago has just now re-emerged tall and robust. And the asparagus bushes that were thoroughly harvested by all the local foragers are putting out new stalks yet again.
After picking my one-handful of asparagus limit, I sat down to rest under a scotch broom bush, awash in the fragrance of its sunny flowers, and marveled at the generosity of this land that, from the era of prehistoric hunters and gatherers through to this exquisite winter day, has so graciously sustained the people who understand how to live on and off of it.