Few things are more life-affirming for me each spring than the appearance of the first asparagus in my garden bed. It happened on Monday last week.
Gardening is in my genes. While I barely knew my paternal grandfather — he died when I was emerging from my toddler years — I know that he walked the same land I walk, nearly always with a hoe in his hand. I have his watering can. His old corn planter still collects dust in a barn.
Gardening in eastern New Mexico is not for the faint-hearted, and yet there is something about spring that makes me annually forget the rains that didn’t fall, and the tomatoes that were pounded flat by hail, and the corn that withered, and the tender sprouts of fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-vegetable that were nipped off at ground level by the blood-thirsty cottontails feigning innocence in the lane.
The logical part of my brain knows that the odds will be against me. My grandpa, who gardened well up into his 90s, must have known that, too.
But as I kneel in my awakening patch of asparagus, inhaling the heady perfume of freshly turned earth, logic flits away.
Maybe this will be the year the garden thrives. I’ll take this row, Grandpa. You do the next one.
Betty Williamson comes from a family of self-proclaimed “desperate optimists.” You may reach her at: