This weekend as Al and I cleared brush from around the broken fence near the old outhouse, I spotted a slender spear of asparagus in the grass. I knew asparagus grew wild along that fence row, a leftover from someone’s garden of the past, but every spring I seem to miss the day the sprout reaches peak edibility.
Every year in late March I start walking the fence row searching for a sign that fresh asparagus is on its way. Every year I am diligent in my search for a week or so. Then, I get distracted for a few days and when I remember to search again, I’m too late. The once tender sprout seems to shoot up 12 inches in a day and the stalk becomes fibrous and the top turns to seed.
This year, I got lucky. We just happened to be out working in an area where the wild asparagus grows on the day it was ready to eat. I spotted that one lone spear and I snapped it off at the ground. Perfect. I could tell by the crisp pop it made when I bent the stem to snapping that it was still tender and good. I dropped my rake and left Al to the brush as I took off down the fence row on my search. I scanned the fence line until I found the telltale sign. A wispy brown bundle four feet high revealed where the seeds had fallen last autumn. There on the ground I hit the jackpot. Ten perfect tender spears of asparagus. It was just enough for…me. I didn’t share either. Yesterday, while the kids were in school and Al was downtown at work, I started a pot of water to boil and dropped my bountiful treasure in. I cooked them till they turned a brilliant green. Not too much, I like them slightly crisp. And with a quick rinse in the strainer, and a dressing of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, my masterpiece was complete. Mmmm, sweet memory, unless I get lucky next year.