The Dawning of the Age of Asparagus

Meanwhile, back in Peterborough County, winter has settled in for an extended engagement until mid-June, approximately, because we’re all enjoying it so much. The snow, which ought to be gone, or nearly so, stretches across the fields, an infinity of tiresome whiteness. No one can remember so much snow on the ground this late in the year… and the farmers, who should at least be thinking sweet thoughts of ploughing and seeding, are muttering apocalyptically. There are no discernable signs of spring, except perhaps for the lengthening of the days. Sugaring-off is in full swing. That’s about it. The temperature cracked freezing today with a blissful south wind as soft and gentle as lambskin, and it rained a dreary rain across slush-choked fields. But as I write the wind has backed to the northwest, and winter is howling again down the chimney.

Naturally the climate change denial industry has seized upon this vile winter as evidence that the climate is getting colder, or something. (A useful and fun antidote to the preceeding rubbish is found here.) Record snowfall across the Northern Hemisphere evidently means the glaciers will be bearing down on Attawapiskat and North Bay this time next year. Except that the mean temperature this winter, in Ontario at least, has been above average. Or so I’m told: I haven’t yet been able to track down a reference to it yet. In the event articles like the above tend to leave me in chill despair that humans can think beyond the immediate and the expedient. Climate change requires thinking in terms of decades and centuries, while most of us — governments and pundits included — can barely think beyond next month.

More cheerfully, I remembered a couple of days ago I planted last summer 108 asparagus seedlings in my vegetable garden. (Funny how you forget what you did last summer, but suddenly holding such things in remembrance while watching the wind whip the snow in ever-higher drifts is a real gift.) Planting asparagus is a bit like getting a puppy. You’re going to be stuck with it for years. Asparagus needs commitment, mulch and a keen eye for beetles. But the reward of fresh asparagus, the king of vegetables, gracing the table in the late spring, succulent in butter or maybe even hollandaise sauce more than compensates. And right now, listening to the cold wind, it passes as a kind of hope.

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One Response

  1. I live in Lanark county, near Ottawa, and we’re still buried in snow. It’s about three feet deep in my back yard yet.

    But everyone around here is commenting on how it’s been an exceptionally “mild” winter — I’m not sure if the temp ever got below minus 20 C, which normally it would do many times in a winter.

    Sure got a hell of a lot of snow though.

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