The secret garden

During quarantine, I suddenly found myself with extra time on my hands. I studied my schoolwork, Zoomed into classes, and memorized Radiohead’s entire discography. But when my eyes grew tired from screens and the hollow strains of “Idioteque” faded from my headphones for the hundredth time, I started to crave something a little more real. So I went to the forest.

Early spring sunlight filtered through crisp air, and birdsong rang out sweet and clear. I stepped delicately through my surroundings, cautiously examining the trees whose pale limbs arched above my head. Last year’s leaves made a spongy layer on the forest floor. I walked forward and felt a calm clarity percolate like a stream through my conscience.

I came back to the forest nearly every day. I kept lists of all the birds I heard, as if making note of conversations with old friends. Drab leaf litter served as the constant backdrop of the post-winter landscape. But as spring progressed, I noticed patches of fresh color emerging from the brown—spring ephemerals, delicate plants that only live for a short window in spring.

One of the more interesting ephemerals possessed two broad leaves with a faintly-red stalk. After some investigation, I discovered that they were wild leeks, colloquially known as ramps. I was amazed by the massive colony of leeks that had sprung out of nowhere to blanket the forest floor with green. Their garlicky pungence intrigued me, so the day after a rainstorm, I pulled one from the damp soil to reveal a perfectly-rounded white onion bulb. 

I ran home with my trophy in hand, and for the next month, ramps always seemed to end up on the dinner table one way or another. 

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