By Mary Pope-Cornum
My husband came in, smiling from ear to ear with his hand behind his back, looking like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I wondered if he was going to pull a water snake out and try to scare me, or something equally teasing as he is so fond of doing.
“Are you busy?” He asked.
“Yes, what do you need?” I am puzzled.
Smiling more broadly, he pulled a small stalk of asparagus from behind his back and held it out to me. Now, before you think he is out of his mind and wondering why this would be meaningful at all, let me elaborate; it was actually a very thoughtful thing for him to do.
From the time I was a small child I loved to gather asparagus in the early spring, walking ditch banks with my siblings to find this green treasure to bring home to our mother. Back then, it was more about the camaraderie and the finding rather than the cooking and eating.
Mother did not believe in seasoning food. Steamed asparagus is not well-received by small children with no white sauce, cheese sauce, or nary a bit of salt or butter. We gagged it down under threat of going to bed early without any dinner at all. Along with black-eyed peas with the same shortage of seasonings, we children would choke our tentative forkfuls down with gulps of water. As my husband tells me sometimes, because of the shortage of talent in my own cooking, we ate to keep from getting hungry, not because we delighted in it.
Years later, after moving to a community in the San Luis Valley, I rediscovered the joy of asparagus walks with my small children. We all enjoyed the early spring, when we could climb through the tall dry grass that surrounded the ditch banks along the country roads around where we lived. Climbing up and down the ditches plucking short, fat, skinny, and tall green asparagus. Snap, snap! Moisture running down little hands and fingers. Looking ahead to find the next grouping, running and laughing to be the first one to pluck more for our nightly meal. We could generally get two meals each spring out of this adventure.
Steamed asparagus in cheese sauce was almost a meal in itself. Along with some mac and cheese, I personally thought that I was in heaven. Taking advantage of Mother Nature’s bounty has always held quite an appeal to me, with seasonings, of course.
The running, plucking and laughing lost its appeal as the years passed quickly by and children grew away from parents as they found their own foothold in the world. Now, as they come to visit with their little ones in tow, we go on asparagus walks, not very often because of timing, but it is a renewal of memories for this Gramma, and hopefully for them.
So with the presentation of a mischievous smile and a small stalk of asparagus, along with a desire for more, my husband and I escape from the house and go on a walk.
Coming from a family of 14 siblings, anyone would understand my escape into writing as I grew up. Many years later with five children and 20 grandchildren, I am again secluding myself in the little town of Sanford, Colorado to again put pen to paper and relax in my thoughts and dreams. – Mary