Spring Fever

Happy Vernal Equinox! Even though according to the flowers and trees here, spring sprang weeks ago, today we official usher in the Spring (and google celebrates spring-inspired designer marimekko).

I am captivated by the etherial pale pink blossom of the cherry trees, the electric green of tiny leaves, the shock of yellow forsythia bushes and the diminutive wildflowers. It’s so tempting to hit another trail…. or travel even further afield.20120320-230206.jpg

I just finished reading, Holding On by Jo Gambi, that chronicles their climb of the 7 highest summits on each continent. It’s the story of a husband and wife team who set off on an insane adventure, all while Rob is in remission from cancer. The book is more realistic about many of the challenges to mountaineering and living “life on the road,” than other mountaineering books I’ve read. Still the traveling and exploration, pushing yourself mentally and physically, and seeing the (literal) top of the continents has such appeal. Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to quit our jobs and travel, but we do need to plan some spring and summer holidays!

Thankfully, right now I want to stay right here in the beauty of spring.

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”
Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays


Sun Salutations


Wow, we seemed to have skipped spring and gone straight to summer. It’s mid-March and in the mid 80s! I love my job but it’s torture to head inside after a lovely lunch break sitting in the sun by the lake, with branches heavy laden with flowers quivering in the breeze. Plus, it’s not getting dark till 7:30pm! I wish I had an outdoor kitchen so I could cook outside. I wonder if we could BBQ on our chimnea! I am such a sun fiend!

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of a free week of yoga at Down Dog Studio in Herndon. It’s hot yoga (but, no, not Bikram) which is new to me, but other than the fact I’m slipping and sliding all over the mat in my own sweat, I’m really liking it! Plus my yoga teacher turns out to be my neighbor! She recognized me when she saw my bike since she’s seen me biking to work each day. It’s a small small world!



Snowdrops by Malcolm R Bell
Snowdrops, a photo by Malcolm R Bell on Flickr.

Spring is on its way! I’ve spied dozens of snowdrops, a few daffodils, some precious purple crocuses and seen buds bursting from the branches of flowering trees.

But while it’s still a bit chilly out, try this recipe from our friend Jean. Another kid-classic turned slightly sophisticated.

Grilled Taleggio Sandwiches with Roasted Grapes

Wash and pat dry red or green grapes, removing stems. Line grapes on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Add a dusting of fresh pepper and sea salt and put in oven for about 10 minutes at 450 F. Grapes should loose some plumpness, but not be shriveled. The flavor intensifies, turning the grapes into little juicy packages of sweetness with a tangy twist.

Meanwhile, grill buttered country bread sandwiched with generous slices of ultra-creamy Taleggio cheese on skillet. Taleggio is a cheese made for melting!

Personally, I halved my grapes and snuck them into my sandwich, but even if you opt to keep a little distance between them, they should be eaten together!

Enjoy with a Malbec or Pinot Blanc.


Mushrooms 1 by oskarholmberg
Mushrooms 1 by oskarholmberg

by Mary Oliver

Last night

the rain

spoke to me

slowly, saying,

what joy

to come falling out of the brisk cloud,

to be happy again

in a new way on the earth!

That’s what it said as it dropped,

smelling of iron,

and vanished

like a dream of the ocean

into the branches

and the grass below.

Then it was over.

The sky cleared.

I was standing

under a tree.

The tree was a tree

with happy leaves,

and I was myself,

and there were stars

in the sky that were also themselves

at the moment

at which moment

my right hand

was holding my left hand

which was holding the tree

which was filled with stars

and the soft rain –

imagine! imagine!

the long and wondrous journeys

still to be ours.



Schmoozing with R.E.S. at Lake Anne. He was very sweet and also impressed by our cross-country hikes. What a legend!

Fighting a cold in which my snot rivaled the colour of glorious baby leaves that have burst from their branches. I’m finally better, but it was a long time coming!

Party round the campfire in our backyard… but I was sick in bed 😦

Dumpster diving glory.

Walker Educational Nature Center celebrations… free b-day dinner courtesy of Whole Foods (oh the asparagus!) and Environmental Film Night friday about the gorgeous Green House.

Billy Collins Book Club.

Dan rescues someone from being swept down the flooded, muddy and thrashing Potomac River. And, yes, he was upstream from Great Falls.

A gorgeous (but windy) picnic at the Willowcraft vineyard with our dear Italian neighbors.

And the sweet scent of hyacinth and day lilies.




you turn me spin me right round baby

O spring!  Weeks ago my heart leapt at my first sighting of flowers – a cluster of purple crocuses (croci?) with stunning stigmas of saffron. Every day the parade of flowers grew…. forsythia, daffodils, magnolias… and now even the prized cherry blossoms are abloom.  But snow?  Seriously!  Spring officially began a week ago!  I can handle the rain when it’s warm. I can handle the cold when it’s sunny… but please tell me we’re done with the cold+wet combo!

spring mix

Forgive us, we’ve been slack at blogging… But we have excuses! We’re both working 4+ jobs, trying to train and plan for the CDT, and also making time to celebrate a visit from Dan’s bro Matt, Anna’s b-day and our anniversary!  Yes, we’ve officially joined the ranks of the other 5.3 million in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area who are so insanely busy they have to pencil in bathroom breaks.  Unfortunately we’ve not yet had the schooling and big pay checks that contribute to the fact the DC Metro area the most educated and affluent in the US.  Ahhh…well the serenity and stillness of life on the trail is looking more appealing every day!


Matt’s visit was superb. Even though it was waaaay too short we managed to see the sights in DC, poke around antique stores in charming country villages, tour a vineyard, go hiking and enjoy the brilliant sunshine and cacophony of colour among tender lime-green leaves. I love spring!  And, in keeping with the Pizzo family tradition we ate lots of delectable food… a few highlights include delish deli treats at Market Salamander in Middlesburg, authentic Italian pizza at Fire Works, a rich Guinness chocolate cheesecake at Magnolias at the Mill, and to-die-for duck at Cork in DC.  But the best thing was just catching up and ruminating on life. So our “Move Matt to DC” campaign has officially begun! And we’ve already got the English weather on our side!


Quick update:

  • Dan’s 100 mile run is tomorrow (yes, he’s crazy!)
  • My plants are doing well – especially my basil (just look at it above!)
  • My old roomie from uni, Elizabeth, is visiting right now – yipee!

P.S. I love spring: wildflowers, sunshine, bluebells, grass and tiramasu ice cream


Spring is really here and it’s all I can talk about. Baby lime-green leaves dot formerly barren trees. Carpets of tulips, daffodils & daisies, cascades of purple flowers spill over garden walls. The sun doesn’t set until around 8pm, a good 4 hours later than a month ago! And it’s beginning to be warm (British translation: warm = 10°C/50°F).

So last Saturday a housemate and I went to a garden centre and then we both spent the afternoon gardening. In the end she had two pots of gorgeous flowers and I just had a lot of dirt. Why? Because I planted seeds (they’re a heck of a lot cheaper), while she planted plants. So now I’m left impatiently waiting, peering at dirt daily and saying the rosary for my rosemary. At least in England I don’t have to worry about watering my seeds – there’s plenty of rain for that.

So many times I long for the instant gratification of planting a plant. And all the other things that bring instant gratification. Waiting is torture. But also beneficial… just check out the marshmallow study of the 60s.

Gardening is deeply spiritual. After all, taking care of the Garden was one of man’s first tasks. It’s amongst the growing green things of this earth that I think I learn the most about God. So many of JC’s parables were about gardening. The farmer who haphazardly scatters seed, most of it never even sprouting. Or when the master is said to harvest plants he didn’t even sow. Or the kingdom of God being compared to a mustard seed. Or this: “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:23-24).

So this spring I’m scattering seeds. Basil, hope, courgettes and love. And I’m hoping for some underground multiplication.