Thursday, January 30, 2014

Asparagus Dressed in Dew

I was standing at the counter, taking celery out of its bag to put it in a storage box. At some point between taking it in my hand and cutting the tips off, I had a flashback to life at an earlier point in time, a vivid sensory memory of asparagus growing in my daddy's garden and of seeing it in the earlier part of the morning while it was covered in dew.

It has been many years since those memories could have been made, but I remembered with great depth of feeling how beautiful it was, how I loved to get out there early enough to see the asparagus in the morning. How it seemed like an enchanted time and place to be there with it, to know that only now and here could that beauty be encountered. An hour earlier it would have been hidden in darkness. A half hour later it would be gone.

Sort of a funny thing, to come almost out of nowhere like that. Celery is green and long, so I suppose the connection makes some sense. But what is stranger to me is that I haven't seen asparagus growing for over thirty years, I couldn't even remember just what it looked like. Green and delicate were the impressions that came to mind--and feathery, airy. Someting about spider webs. And something like magical.

I remember that when I was growing up in smalltown and rural Arkansas, I would sometimes think, as I helped weed the garden or pick its produce, about what I would grow in my garden when I grew up. I don't think it occurred to me then that I might not even have a garden, or that there were people who didn't. It was just, "What will I have in my garden someday?"

And I knew asparagus would have to be in it. Even though I also knew that Daddy said it never did very well and probably needed sandier soil or a cooler climate, or something like that. I remember thinking that it didn't matter at all to me whether or not the asparagus could be eaten. I wanted to grow it just so I could come in the mornings and see it in the pale light with the dew on it.

As I stood there stringing and chopping the celery that didn't go into the box, I thought these things, and I wondered if I were simply enchanted by the asparagus because of my youth and tendency toward romanticism, or if they would still strike as so beautiful. (Ha, I said "they…." in Italian, as with spaghetti, "asparagi" are plural….I once had a pizza in Sorrento, pizza agli asparagi….)

I wondered, could I possibly find pictures of asparagus with dew on them? Because I certainly have no way to take any such pictures.

I went to the search engine and entered "asparagus with dew"--and would you believe I found pictures. Even a blogpost. You can see it here, and I strongly encourage you to, especially if you have never seen dew on asparagus, or if you have and like me have not seen it again for many years.

Apparently I am not the only one to have marveled at this phenomenon. I'm sure this blogger and I are not alone, either. Anyone who has been out early enough to see it could hardly help noticing how beautiful it is.

Time prevents a long discussion on what beauty is, and how it comes to be that the world is so full of beauty, and that we human beings are cognizant of it, that we remember something for decades simply because it struck us with its beauty. I think these are fascinating things to think about. And important.

But for now I just encourage you to look at the pictures and enjoy the beauty of asparagus in dew.

(And I feel I should add re. the paragraph above, that I did not help my dad nearly as much as I should have in the garden!)

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Poem to Start a New Week and to End the Christmas Season

I have no original thoughts. (Do any of us, really?) But today is the last day of Christmas and it is also Sunday, and this is a wonderful poem that relates to Incarnation and communion/Eucharist/Lord's Supper, and it has been in my mind all week, so I will share it here.

(The photo is from an old chapel on the grounds of Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Alabama.)

By George Herbert.

Love (III)

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                             So I did sit and eat.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Poem to Start the New Year

On my "someday-maybe" list is to read a book of poetry by Czeslaw Milosz. I only heard of him a few years ago, but what I've heard makes me want to know more.

Found this poem today and thought how, even though the middle lines might be different for each of us and would be for me, we can probably all "amen" the first line. And be grateful that the last lines are also true. (Unless we've really, really been stupid and gotten famous for it somehow.)

He wrote this the same year he won the Nobel Prize for literature.

Here's to wise choices in the New Year!


The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle’s flame.

Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, though it is a warning, is ignored.

I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.

But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own—but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.

The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it’s late. And the truth is laborious.