May is the season of asparagus in Vermont, the first of my garden to push up through the mulch straw, pointy green gems, the succulent stems. The first of the garden’s offerings, and likely the most delicious. Like everything else, the strength of the asparagus beds comes and goes. A friend of mine remarked at a school board meeting the other night her asparagus beds were on the wane. Mine, more recently sowed, are producing bountifully.
Our perfect handful of May days are now encroached by black flies, by either too much sun or cold rain: but isn’t that the way of the world? Mary Oliver in “Wild Geese” writes:
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Writing is like my asparagus beds, rich under the surface, nourishing and sweet, and yet tensile with organic strength, able to thrust through my poor and clayey soil to the world above of sunlight and rain, and my fingers, eager for a dinner harvest.
Every year, I forget just how good asparagus is. Aim for that in writing, I think: better than I might imagine. How easily we get caught in the details of our lives — important and dear to us — and yet, overhead, all that sun and those clear pebbles of sun, if only we would lift our eyes.