In China, as I learned a long time ago and I cannot now remember where or when, there are said to be several more seasons than are counted in the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world has used since the late 16th century. One of those seasons is spring-into-summer, which, like autumn-into-winter, has always struck me as an eminently fine way to describe this time right now in the northern hemisphere in the middle of blessed May. Blessed because even in the southern reaches, it’s still May and the weather is balmy and the summer heat has yet to descend in all its fury. Here in northern New England everything has leafed out in its greenest splendor, the lilacs are budding nicely getting ready for Memorial Day, the apples are blossoming, and the annual miracle of local asparagus, for which we all pray throughout the coldest part of the year, has once again taken place.
Asparagus is everywhere, such a bountiful crop and such a brief period of abundance. You wouldn’t know that from looking into the produce section of a typical American supermarket where asparagus sits, banded together in tight dry clumps, throughout the entire year. Asparagus for your Thanksgiving table? Not a problem! We have it straight from an industrial-organic farm in some faraway desert land where it was grown, cut, and shipped straight to you, exuding moisture all along the way.
Not for me! I wait and wait for asparagus fresh from a neighbor’s garden, from a farm in one of my many local markets, or from Beth’s, the remarkable farm market not too far away in Warren, where the asparagus comes from Beth’s own fields, as fresh as. . . well, all I can say is, as fresh as a May morning.
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