The faint odor of garlic floats in the cool spring air, tender green leaves carpet the hillside. An amphitheater of maples surrounds me, burying their feet in last years winter worn red leaves. The stiff vibrim soles of my hiking boots grip the loose soil, leaving dark ruffled footsteps across the ground.
I dig the tips of my fingers into the relaxed loamy soil, slowly exposing the tiny, white bulb of the wild leek. Cleaning off the viscous coating, I hold the leek up to the air, my trophy. The warm sun filtered through the bare branches in this serene temple of maples, waiting to burst forth with greenery, and the subtle smell of loam, and garlic all fill the air.
I move to another spot to dig another clump, always leaving a handful behind, untouched. Over and over again I dig, move, dig and move across the slope of the hill until my plastic shopping bag bulges, my fingers are stained black with soil and traces of leek scent follow their path through the air, an invisible contrail of scent.
In my imagination, I inhale the steam over a large metal stockpot of the leek broth I will make. I taste the melding flavors of wild leek quiche and salads with leeks. Recipes run through my head bringing scents and tastes along the back of my throat, always with a base note of leek.
Along the bank a spring bubbles from under a rock to join the main body of a flowing river, slicing through the hillside. Cupped in my hands, filtered by the earth and renewed by the recent rains, cooled by winter memories, the sweet water refreshes my parched throat and tingles along my sweaty face.
I pause, watching the leeks expand under the strength of the sun, I can hear the buds swell and burst through the red bud sheaths while my heart thrums in rhythm with the grouses call to his mate.