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October 6th 2009

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    Asparagus always sounds like a fine addition to a vegetable garden.  But there is a reason why fresh Asparagus remains exotic.   It belongs to that part of life that is the tutu. 

    An Asparagus bed takes time to establish.  When it fruits it has a short season, and the bed in which Asparagus grows requires considerable attention, otherwise those weeds that travel conduct a campaign of Asparagus extermination.  And here, were I live, these weeds that so dislike the idea of Asparagus are already rampant in their determination to rule. 

   In the face of this peril I am preparing an Asparagus bed for planting early in Spring, and I think back to those other places where this plant has perished and I try to recall the actual cause of its demise.  

    I have in the past swished through gardens like a ballerina making pirouettes.  The more dire the prognosis, the more passionate the gesture, the more confident the manner, the more capable I have appeared.  And I always laid the blame for failed Asparagus beds in one of three places.  Improper planting.  Idle weeding.  Insufficient water during periods of drought.

 

    

    These days, amongst elderliness, I still discover those tendencies of the ballerina when in a garden that belongs to another.  But in our own garden, I find myself wearing footwear that does not support a tutu.   I am sometimes dour and depressing in my conviction that men were not intended by God to plant perennial vegetables, which is probably why this Asparagus bed has been nearly five years in the conceptual phase.

   Fortunately, rain today, monsoonal with lightning and thunder at times, following a red sunrise, has further delayed the Asparagus bed.  Allowing yet one more opportunity to conceptualize Asparagus.  Wonder at the ornament of its fronds waving in what imagination tells me is a warm, gentle breeze.  Dally with a soil structure out of which for many years polite weeds can be lightly tugged, root and all.  The sun elegant in the sky.  Exactly an inch of rain a week, arriving in four increments of one quarter of an inch of rain each, occurring precisely at three forty five in the afternoon of the even days.  

    Briefly I will wear the tutu and I will see Asparagus as it appears in the thesaurus of the word 'perfection', that belongs to a jobbing gardener, or a mail order catalogue.   And briefly I will own confidence. 

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tim candler

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