Spring is emerging. The early mornings may still bring a glistening layer of frost and the nights may linger, but we are definitely stepping further and further away from the darker, colder months and into a new, warmer season. These transitional periods often come with feelings of hope and anticipation, as we start looking forward to the more vibrant parts of the year. We have perhaps begun thinking about social gatherings, camping excursions, long days in the garden or sitting under a tree with a book. Or perhaps this shift between seasons can feel a bit unsettling. Wherever you are, notice this phase of emergence, both surrounding you in nature and internally. Nature moves away from the depths of winter slowly, consciously and purposefully. How can we do the same?
This blog will invite you to look out for some locally abundant and wonderfully cleansing herbs that are now just emerging along the hedgerows. It also suggests some gentle movements as a way of softly awakening your circulation and easing any aches and pains that can accompany these colder months of stillness.
I’ve personally not always loved February. The cold, dark months can feel at this point like they’re dragging on and my body’s questionable ability to effectively circulate itself means that I usually always opt for hibernating inside rather than for any kind of social interaction. I find myself feeling a mixture of hope and anticipation for the warmer days, whilst also feeling some resistance to step into them.
It’s completely normal to have less desire to go outside when it’s cold, but how do we shift away from this state of hibernation both physically and mentally? For me, I’m choosing to do so slowly. I love snuggling-up at home with just a book for company, but I am also mindful that being socially connected is equally beneficial for my emotional wellbeing. By stepping out of this space gradually, I’m hoping to consciously avoid overwhelm and to preserve my energy for the long, beautifully vibrant summer months that lie ahead for all of us.
If you take a walk along one of Norfolk’s rambling paths or simply step into your garden or allotment (if you have one) then you will begin to notice many spring herbs beginning to make an appearance. Two great examples of these are:
- Nettles (Urtica dioica)
- Cleavers (Gallium aparine)
These plants are massively taken for granted because they are so abundant, but are both wonderful examples of spring herbs that have amazing yet gentle cleansing, detoxifying and nutritive properties. They provide us with a powerful spring tonic for supporting waste elimination and our lymphatic system. Cleansing our body with spring herbs can help improve vitality and clear toxins that may have built up over the winter months.
You can prepare a very simple yet effective cold infusion by *collecting the young shoots of cleavers and leaving them immersed in a jar of cold water for a minimum of 30 minutes, but longer is better. Simply strain and drink. You can also add cleavers to green smoothies or juices.
Taking a walk in nature to look for signs of spring is also a perfect way of moving your body and helping to gently shift the physical effects of the colder months. Not only have many of us been less active, but the cold weather results in our bodies working harder to stay warm as our muscles contract and stiffen as blood is focused inwards, to our vital organs. As a result, we physically tense up, which can alter our postures and means we’re more likely to experience aches and pains.
Gentle movement can be incredibly beneficial as it helps support blood circulation and ease tense muscles. Alongside some walks, you could practise some gentle yoga (moon salutations are perfect here) and some soft, mindful stretching… or perhaps even a nice massage. You can learn more about Feel Good Businesses Here for a list of some wonderful, local wellbeing businesses that can all help you support your body physically and emotionally as we step into these warmer months.
My relationship with February is gradually shifting, particularly as I am becoming more aware of the way in which nature is gradually emerging around us. I’m slowly seeing February as being less a month of lingering darkness and more a month of gradual lightening. We’ve just spent the last few months embracing the darker, reflective parts of ourselves and we can now consider embracing our lighter more sociable aspects, knowing that both are valuable and inherently important to who we are. All seasons come with a degree of surrender and acceptance that change is both inevitable and constant.
Words by Heather.
Connecting people to nature.
* Disclaimer: As always, please take care if harvesting wild herbs. Practise mindfully harvesting only what you need, gently removing any insects and tuning in to what’s around you. A plant may appear abundant, but it is still a part of the ecosystem and supporting local biodiversity. In my mind, there is no such thing as a useless native ‘weed’. Be sure that you also know what it is you’re collecting- it’s helpful to have a wildflower book to hand.