Cherry Blossoms in the Morning Sun (and other photos of spring)
Spring is my favourite season in western Slovakia. The sun starts showing itself again, new signs of plant life begin to appear. Bear garlic, the European version of ramps, carpets the forest. And the trees burst into bloom.
March was a month of chicken pox here, and we limped into Easter. On Palm Sunday, instead of palms we use branches of pussy willows at the church.
Easter Sunday lunch is, of course, rezne (schnitzel) – deep fried breaded cutlets. My oldest daughter loves to cook, here she helps her dad. Hammered pork (sometimes chicken) is dipped first in finely ground flour, then beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs before being deep fried.
A small sample of the many many sweets for one extended family Easter celebration.
My in-laws have a number of apricot trees in their backyard, and they were in full bloom.
Wild Mirabella plum bushes grow all over western Slovakia, in the spring they line fields and country roads in full bloom.
I think at one time someone threw a bunch of grape hyacinth bulbs in a compost heap, as a whole swath of these beautiful spring flowers were growing in the ditch behind a fence .
I love that bright spring green of new leaves that stands out against the still dark trunks.
On the hillside behind our village, on a hill with an Iron Age settlement called Molpir, are a number of cherry trees. Last year a large amount of the hill was cleared out, making the trees much more orchard like. They are breathtaking when in bloom, especially with a carpet of wild flowers.
I normally think of dead nettle (the purple flower) as a fairly ugly flower, if flowers can be ugly, but it is quite pretty in large amounts.
There was also a zabíjačka, a Slovak pig butchering (read more here). Here is rendering lard, making black pudding, learning the ropes, and after it’s all done.
That was March and April 2016 here. What photos were your favourite?
May 31, 2016 @ 12:18:33
Hanami in Slovakia;-) It is true we do not appreciate what we have. Thank you for reminding me.
May 31, 2016 @ 20:46:25
Beauty can be found everywhere if we look for it!
May 31, 2016 @ 16:37:41
My parents didn’t butcher pigs, but would buy a half pig and cut it up themselves. They would render the “leaf lard”…they called the little solid piece “cracklins” and were delicious. They would make pickled pigs feet too, which I could never bring myself to try as a child. But I still have memories of the uncured country bacon for breakfast!
May 31, 2016 @ 20:48:40
Mmmm, cracklins. Best when fresh and nice and crunchy. Pickled pig feet! I have tried pig feet, but not pickled. I will always try anything once! Food can hold such strong memories, thanks for sharing.
May 31, 2016 @ 16:38:19
Slovakia has its beauty, whether traditions (pig butchering) or nature…Those apricot flowers are brill. Picking apricots off the tree in their full ripeness, bliss. Your cherry tree in blossom reminded me of a poliklinika in my native town. I would never forget the Japanese cherry tree (only blossoms no fruit). Half of the tree pink blossoms and another half covered with white. And the smell – to die for…Your hycinths are fantastic. Are they wild? Such blueness and the shape of individual petals. So intricate.
May 31, 2016 @ 20:51:56
Aren’t grape hyacinths beautiful? They were feral, I think, grown up from some thrown away bulbs. I consider any tree fruit precious, as it was too cold where I grew up to have any. A half/half tree, interesting!
May 31, 2016 @ 16:41:49
All of the pictures are so beautiful. I live in a dry, hot climate where green, or any color is rarely seen. In the spring the palo verde tree blooms with acid yellow blossoms, but that’s about it.
May 31, 2016 @ 20:56:07
Yes, Slovakia is very verdant, spring thru fall. I had to look up what a palo verde tree is – it does have bright blossoms! One trade off of hot/dry vs. hot/humid is that at least you can still move – when it is humid I feel like I am swimming through wet air and I’m constantly sticky!
May 31, 2016 @ 17:13:25
Oh, and you just reminded me that I miss pussy willows. They were everywhere back in western Pennsylvania where I grew up, but we don’t have them out here in eastern Washington. They were a sure sign of spring and so special……
May 31, 2016 @ 20:56:55
Yes, a sure sign of spring and so soft.
May 31, 2016 @ 17:42:44
So hard to choose…. the path through the trees; the first picture of the cherries with Molpir in the distance… the way the light shines through the petals on the 1st apricot blossom photo… the last photo of the covered barrels and kettles at the end of the day… I love them all. Thank you for sharing your part of the world. I am in western Washington, USA, near the very northwest tip of the state, just across from Canada. We have a lot of similar plants! My garden is filled with the purple deadnettle in early spring, and I never weed them out because the bumble bees love them so much.
May 31, 2016 @ 21:00:20
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed them! I knew so many plants in Canada and feel like I don’t know so many here. I have, on a few occasions, identified flowers with the Flower Fairy books, ones that are common to Europe. I guess dead nettle lives everywhere! The bees here go crazy when the linden trees are in bloom, which will be soon, and the black locust trees, although there wasn’t much of those this year.
May 31, 2016 @ 20:46:38
All your photos are beautiful! I especially like the close-up of the dead nettle with the morning dew. Very creative! Thank you for sharing your home land. I am from Ontario, Canada; but my Great Grandparents were from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Enjoy your recipes as well Naomi. Thank you!
May 31, 2016 @ 21:04:46
Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and recipes. I spent a year in Ontario and very much want to go back to visit some wonderful people. Someday.
Jun 01, 2016 @ 06:01:35
Do you mean the Flower Fairy Book by Cicely Mary Barker? One of my favorites! Shared it with my children and now my grandchildren! Thank you for the lovely photos. I, too love that “bright spring green of new leaves that stands out against the still dark trunks.” Oh, Spring !!
Jun 01, 2016 @ 10:40:57
Yes! I’ve loved them since childhood and still do! When I bought it for myself though I bought one big volume and now I wish I had bought the individual little books, much more inviting to children than a big heavy book. And many of the flowers that I didn’t know in Canada are around here. Glad you liked the photos!
Jun 01, 2016 @ 10:53:58
Somebody from Hamilton emailed me about the pussy willows but I can’t reply – please leave your email in the address box on the form. Thanks!
Jun 01, 2016 @ 11:39:03
Beautiful photos, Naomi. Love the cherry blossoms and wild flowers. Lovely that your daughter is learning about her culture in the kitchen. So much is lost when recipes are not passed down the generations, and children do not get involved with cooking and baking. Food is such an important part of our cultures.
Jun 01, 2016 @ 14:46:37
Thank you! Yes, food is such a big part of culture, and one that is easy to share. Two of my kids especially love to help in the kitchen, which is encouraging.
Jun 02, 2016 @ 17:44:07
These are all lovely, but I think the pictures with the beautiful clock tower are my favorites. I live in Central California where it is full on summer already. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 104 degrees! I am not quite ready for that kind of heat yet. It was nice to see your cool, green spring pictures. Fun also to see your lard rendering pictures. I remember pig butchering time as a child in Southwest Missouri. It was always a fun time. Now I buy part of a hog from a farmer and render my lard in a Crock Pot. Different method, but it still tastes every bit as good!
Jun 03, 2016 @ 23:08:48
104! Yikes. It is much warmer now that when I took the photos, but not that hot. Is it humid or dry where you are?
Scaled down meat processing is awesome, good for you! The crockpot doesn’t require as much stirring. 🙂