“I’m going out. To do something. With someone. It’s a surprise.” was my text to the Man yesterday. His reply, “Any one of those things would be a surprise.” He’s not wrong. I’m a proto-hermit. For the most part, I’m good with that. I won’t go into all the ways Italy reinforces it. But yeah, my days are mostly full of Go to the Gym, do the shopping, lunch & laundry, put some effort into dinner, do a little cleaning around the house, occasionally Make Good Art (beyond Dinner, which qualifies as art in trying to live a creative life). Every day starts with a quiet devotional time where I thank God for the day before and hand over the one in front of me.
So, yesterday, not a Go to the Gym day, just after the devotion time but before the cat had completed her quiet time on my lap, I got a text inviting me to go wild asparagus hunting up in the hills. It was one of the first beautiful days of what just might be Spring in these parts. I said I’d love to, but I don’t know how to catch them. She said they’re very slow but hide well. I made an asparagus trap out of a tall skinny box with a plastic sleeve inside. We met later and drove up past the Buddhist Monastery, nearly pasting two maroon monks talking on their cell phones walking along the side of the road, to a big park she knows. Italy is veined with frequently well-marked trails ~red/white/red flags painted on trees and rocks, often with the designated trail number on them as well~ one may follow over hill, dale, and private property.
Not at all what I expected. But peculiar enough in the region to stand out. They are prickly themselves and keep truly ferocious neighbors, most notably blackberry bushes. I was picking thorns out of my hair at the end of the day. The canvas barn coat was a good call. Even heavier trousers wouldn’t have gone amiss. The asparagus plants are rangy and tend to sprawl. The branches must be followed back to the base, where the new delicious sprouts spring up. It was an odd and exciting sensation to be eyeing along a horizontal trail then suddenly being looking up a vertical shoot, the quarry! sometimes with great disappointment to see the tender top had already been taken by another. Each plant shoots only one or two stalks at a time, so every reach into the briars which yielded nothing was a let down.
But it was an amazingly successful day! Wild asparagus are very very skinny compared to commercial varieties. But still, the box was full, enough for 4 small side portions at dinner. Which I also forgot to document in my haste to snarf them down while hot, after a quick sauté in olive oil.
I went out. And did something. With someone. And shared the spoils. It was a very good day, about 3 1/2 hrs of hiking and hunting. Phew. I think I’ll stay in this weekend and run a good CatCamp.