February and I’m busy planning my garden, leafing through the seed catalogues, circling more vegetables than my yard can hope to accommodate: Tomatoes and carrots; onions and lettuce. But not asparagus. Never asparagus.
Asparagus is a commitment to place: After planting, you have to wait three or four years before first harvest. And I am not committed to this land. Oh, my husband and I have cared for it well enough, maintaining the house, mowing, trimming, putting in flowerbeds. But I do not love this land: My heart, my soul belongs to the country.
Every time a new farm comes on the market, my husband and I jump in the car and head north or west, head away, away from the suburbs, hope in our hearts. But it never works out: The house is beyond repair; The basement is damp; It’s too far from a train station. We return home, disappointed, look at the tiny plot outside our window, sequestered neatly behind our fence, strangled by the close distance of others.
In the eight years since I was transplanted from the country to the suburbs, I have adapted: I have grown and learned and made new friends. But I will flourish best in my native land. It’s time to return to the country.
I want to get my hands in some rich, dark soil. I want to wake to birdsong, fall asleep to the chorus of spring peepers. I want to meander through the woods and in the fields, not along a prescribed path of concrete.
Before it’s too late, I want my children to appreciate the land. I want them to know the value of hard, physical work, to take pride in something they’ve accomplished. I want them to know the heft of a hammer; to feel sore muscles and joints. I want them to pick berries and see the vulnerability of an egg moments after it’s been laid. I want them to build a tree house, raise a goat, cut asparagus.
Soon, my husband says.
No, I will not plant asparagus this year. For if I commit asparagus to this ground, I commit to this place and I give up on my little farm in the country. So, for now, I’ll grow my tomatoes and turnips, carrots and kale, and dream of the time when the little green shoots erupting from the ground announce that I am finally at home.
Note: This was the very first blog post I made, back in February of 2011. Now that I am indeed at home and have tucked my asparagus into the ground, it’s time to move on. I’m committed, this time to a larger piece of writing that will occupy much of my time. Thanks so much for being faithful readers.