​"If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vapourous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye"  

​-  Laurie Lee, "April Rise"

It wasn't until we lived in France that I came to truly appreciate the relief and reviving power of spring. We lived in shoe-box of a granny flat on the northern edge of Paris. Villiers-le-bel was our neighborhood and it was not quaint or glamorous; yet I came to love the place famous for it's riots, immigrant population and low-income housing. I loved it's diverse faces and languages and specialty shops, it's many bakeries and twice weekly famers market by the train station. If I close my eyes I can still see the path I'd walk with a newborn baby slung across my chest from our back gate, down the main street, to the station and back. I can see my Turkish, Chaldean and Algerian neighbours coming and going from their houses, the Chinese green grocer and the Moroccan butcher and the gypsies begging outside the supermarche. I can see the Polish woman with her dog who smiled as we exchanged a few pleasantries - French was a second language for both of us, and I was always left with the feeling that we hadn't been able to really say and hear as much as we wanted to. 

We lived two winters in France. They were dark and cold and so unlike every other winter of my life which had been spent in a temperate city by the sea. I remember three weeks going by without a single clear, sunny sky. I was never so thankful for hydronic heating, woollen socks and double-glazed windows. Then after months of pining, it came - spring began with her early morning bird song and crocuses and daffodils pushing up through the grass, tiny vibrant buds on the trees. Each morning, the baby and I would open up the wooden shutters and let the good, fresh air in. We luxuriated in the longer days, in sunshine that actually felt warm, however fleeting. I felt my whole self, and everything around me, thawing out, reviving. I declared it my favourite season. 

After we returned from France eight years ago, we came to live here in central Victoria with it's own kind of long, cold winters. I often think how those two years in Villiers-le-bel prepared me for my future home, or at least expanded my bodily sense of the seasons - of enduring winter slowly, of quietly waiting and painfully withdrawing, only to unfurl again, gleefully, grateful for every sunbeam and flower opening. 

Spring fans out like a hopeful song. It speaks of light overcoming the darkness, of life growing where it was previously unseen, a melody of blossoming, budding, creeping and curling around everything - a cacophony of creatures singing, pasture regeneratingI like that spring can be found between the rocks or on a hillside,
 a bubbling of clear water, or of spiritual succor for the weary heart, of soulful soaking. A spring is also a coil with incredible flexibility, in which to gather force, store energy. It is a dynamic, changeable thing. Resilient because it moves with shock, stretching out and returning. 

Spring is a spacious place of remembering what has passed and imagining what could be. Of holding grief and loss in one hand and hope and anticipation in the other. Spring is painfully germinating, gloriously unfurling. That and you cannot really fathom the beauty and reviving power of spring without enduring the season before it, without first wintering. 



Read  "April Rise" by Laurie Lee. 

Listen to the world outside you. Find a place to sit and close your eyes for five minutes. Explore the season with your senses: What can you hear? What can you taste? What can you feel? Perhaps like me you are waking up with the spring, reviving your bones with sunshine after the cold of winter - or perhaps you are in autumn, preparing yourself for the ending of the year and dark months ahead. What are you thankful for? What hopes do you hold right now? 

Contemplate Song of Songs 2: 10-13
See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.” 

Consider these words of Catherine McNeil in her book, All Shall Be Well:

"Not all that comes to life in spring will survive. All the most precious things are vulnerable; one new life will die quickly, suddenly, while another thrives and grows. Others will lie dormant, blossoming only after hope has faded. Life offers no guarantees. Except, perhaps, this one: We will, all of us, encounter beauty and pain, both so gripping and vast they will rock us to our core. These are the terms, the facts of life. And in full realisation, we open our eyes and hearts to another year of what may-be... When our eyes are open to the pain, the danger, the trouble, it takes courage to pry our hearts open long enough to come alive again"

. from the recipe book .


Salade aux Framboises et Noix (Walnut + Raspberry Salad)
Something I really do miss about living in France - especially in spring time - was the raspberries. I made this a lot when we lived in France after ordering it at a bistro. 

For the dressing:
juice and zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup walnut or olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
generous pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper 

For the salad:
1 cup fresh raspberries (plus additional 1/2 cup for dressing)
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 large dark leaved lettuce or 4 big handfuls of rocket
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup raw walnuts

Toast your walnuts in a pan until golden, set aside to cool. Then make your dressing - in jar combine oil, 1/4 cup fresh raspberries, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and orange juice and zest - shake vigourously.

In a large bowl toss in torn lettuce leaves or rocket, next add in slices of avocado followed by red onion and finally scatter in your raspberries and toasted walnuts. Pour over dressing just before eating. Toss with salad serves gently before serving... enjoy with a hunk of fresh bread to soak up all the wonderful zesty, tangy, oily juices.


Sunshine Yellow Lemon + Yoghurt Slice 
100g softened butter
3/4 cups cane sugar
pinch sea salt
2 large, pastured free range eggs
1 cup unsweetened greek yoghurt
zest and juice of two lemons
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I blend rice/tapioca/arrowroot flours)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

In a food processor or using a hand beater, cream butter and eggs together in a bowl until pale. Beat in eggs one a time. Beat in yoghurt and lemon juice and zest. In a separate bowl whisk flours and baking powder together - gently fold into wet mixture until just combined (it will look a bit lumpy). Pour into paper lined 20cm square or round tin and bake in a moderate oven (180'c) for 35 minutes or until lightly golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin and cut into squares. Eat on it's own with a warm cup of tea or with a generous dollop of fresh cream...

. On the blog .

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Winter ending...

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Midwinter is...

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springtime is springing
buzzing, blooming,
unfurling, cheeping

all around us 
buds bursting 
birds singing

we are 
hanging our winter bones
to dry in the sunshine
and ripple in the breeze

we are 
planting out, sowing, 
pen to paper planning,
ideas brimming -

we are 
no longer dormant,
baring our toes, white legs
necks and elbows 

buds bones birds breath 
all around us

Missed issue 8? Click here to read

​p.s. I know these newsletters are for the most part a one-sided conversation, and while I hope they bring some comfort and ideas for reflection, if you feel like reaching out for any reason, please do. I would love to hear back from you and know what this season is bringing up for you. Emily x