Spring in the northern woodlands is a very sudden thing. One day the snow is flurrying through the air and the next day leaves and flowers are bursting out of every inch of the forest. While the rest of the country has been harvesting dandelions and morels for weeks, we impatiently sit on the shores of our Great Lakes and wait for that first warm whisper of the changing seasons.
One of the first to awaken after winter is the tin,y but beautiful violet. The bursts of soft purple on the woodland carpet herald the imminent arrival of fiddleheads and ramps. It can be easy to overlook these unobtrusive jewels. Aside from cosmetic and culinary attributes, springtime violets hold a lesson for the woodland foragers of the north.
Collecting the diminutive blossoms can be a painstaking process, or a meditative delight, depending on your perspective. In their impatience to greet the sun the violets sit nestled in their greenery often passed by in our haste to find more seemingly satisfying spring treasures. If you can, set aside the siren song of roses and apple blossoms for just an hour and sit among the violets. Collect their delicate blooms (always leaving much more than you take) and watch as the ancient pattern of the forest cycles unfolds before your eyes. Make friends with the violets and learn their lesson of patience.