Tag Archive | asparagus

Being Thankful Today – not just on Thanksgiving

Today’s about as far from Thanksgiving as you can be in a year, but I want to talk about being thankful anyway. Being thankful was on my mind a lot last week.

On Thursday, I went to the county jail again to play the piano for the women inmate’s worship service. During the testimony time, one of the women talked about how blessed she felt and how thankful she was. She was back in jail because she had been caught drinking while she was out on probation. She had made a dumb mistake, and she was sorry. But what bothered her most was that her daughter who was in college was extremely angry at her for messing up. Her daughter wasn’t about to forgive her for making this mistake. The mother had been praying for her daughter and had been praying that they could be reconciled. The inmate was delighted to report that God had answered her prayer. Her daughter had sent her a wonderful, loving Mother’s Day card. She was ready to forgive her mother. The mother couldn’t be more thankful. God had heard and answered her prayer. Her daughter had forgiven her. And her daughter wanted her to know that she loved her. She was overflowing with thankfulness.

Also on Thursday, my partner Mim told me about a new book she had just started reading, Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude (copyright © 2009 by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, Viva Editions). The book is all about having an attitude of being thankful every day in all things.

Friday morning visitor on the deck of our condo.

On Friday morning, I looked out on our deck and saw my favorite kind of bird, a goldfinch, about 18 inches from the patio door. I took this picture through the window. What a great way to start the day! Last week had been a hard week for me because of Mim staying at Whispering Winds for a little getaway, leaving me in charge of our resident (with major assistance from our caregivers Kathy and Nancy). Nonetheless, it was considerable responsibility and stress added on top of my normal routines. Seeing my favorite bird on the deck was a bright spot, a special treat to be thankful for. I was also thankful that there were no crises to deal with when I was in charge.

On Saturday, I spent time working outside at Whispering Winds. I picked the asparagus (yes, it’s still coming), and I started the huge, unending task of weeding some of the flower beds around the house. But the best part was enjoying a beautiful day. It was hot, but there was a gentle breeze. The roses are bursting open, especially in the old-fashioned shrub rose bed. I took a few pictures with my cell phone to show you what it looks like at Whispering Winds these days. Too bad I couldn’t capture the smell with the camera – these are the fragrant roses. Not hard to remember to be thankful on Saturday!

This really is the place to take time to smell the roses. These old-fashioned shrub roses are the fragrant kind.

When I told Mim I was writing this blog, she said there’s a really good poem in the book that I might want to share with you. Here it is.

WEATHER REPORT
by BJ Gallagher

“Any day I’m vertical
is a good day”
– that’s what I always say.
And I give thanks
that I’m healthy.
If you ask me,
“How are you?”
I’ll answer, “GREAT!”
because in saying so,
I make it so.
And I give thanks
that I can choose my attitude.
When Life gives me dark clouds and rain,
I appreciate the moisture
which brings a soft curl to my hair.
When Life gives me sunshine,
I gratefully turn my face up
to feel its warmth on my cheeks.
When Life brings fog,
I hug my sweater around me
and give thanks for the cool shroud of mystery
that makes the familiar seem different and intriguing.
When Life brings snow,
I dash outside to catch the first flakes on my tongue,
relishing the icy miracle that is a snowflake.
Life’s events and experiences
are like the weather –
they come and go,
no matter what my preference.
So, what the heck?!
I might as well decide to enjoy them.
For indeed,
there IS a time for every purpose
under Heaven.
Each season brings its own unique blessings.
And I give thanks.

© BJ Gallagher 2009

(Note: You can learn more about this poet, speaker, and prolific author from her website, http://www.bjgallagher.com.)

The wild cranberry bush in bloom in front of Whispering Winds. This bush provides lots of red berries that the hearty birds are thankful for all winter long.

Asparagus Story

Lonely asparagus stalk

The first edible sign of spring has arrived – asparagus. I discovered the first lonely stalk standing proud, about 8 inches tall, yesterday. Nearby were a few shorter stubs. There wasn’t quite enough for a meal, so the little clump is still standing.

Asparagus was my mom’s favorite vegetable. She started a couple patches growing on the edge of the lawn before I was born – sometime in the 1940’s. The asparagus I saw yesterday represents the direct descendants of these roots.

Early in the spring, my mom and I would go searching for the first asparagus shoots peeking above the grass. My mom held the paring knife and I held the empty plastic bread bag. As soon as I saw a tiny shoot, I’d shout “Here’s one!” My mom would bend over, cut it with the knife, right next to the ground, and hand the shoot to me to put in the bag. We didn’t bother to let the shoots grow tall. The shorter they were, the tenderer they were. Anyway, my mom was too eager to get some to eat. By May, when the weather was warmer, the asparagus grew so fast that we’d get plenty of tall stalks, enough to freeze packages to have throughout the year.  Depending on how warm it was, we’d repeat our asparagus search every two or three days.

Asparagus stubs

You would think that with the excitement of picking the asparagus, and my mom’s love of the vegetable, that I would like to eat it, too. No way. I hated the stuff. The flavor was too strong for me. My mom would make me eat one bite – not one stalk – one inch-long bite every meal she served it.

It wasn’t until I was an adult living in Chicago that I began to appreciate its flavor and texture. When we moved back to Wisconsin, about 20 years ago, we discovered an easy recipe for appetizers that made me love asparagus almost as much as my mom had loved it. Basically, you flatten a slice of bread with a rolling pin. (Optional, you may want to cut off the crusts first – we usually don’t bother, but it makes the appetizer look prettier.) Spread cream cheese with chives on one side of the bread. Place three or four stalks of asparagus together in the middle of the bread, and fold the sides of the bread over the asparagus. Place the asparagus-bread roll, seam-side down, on a cookie sheet. Spread butter on the top of the roll and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees about 10 minutes. Just thinking about these appetizers makes me want to go out right now and pick the asparagus shoots I saw yesterday.

Asparagus Appetizer

In a typical spring (who knows about this year!), by late April, we have so much asparagus we eat it every way we can think of – quiche, strata, soup – and we give it away to whoever will take some. We also freeze a lot, just as my mom did. By June, we let it go to seed so that we can enjoy it again next year. The cycle of life for our two asparagus patches has probably been repeated about 70 years so far.

Isn’t it amazing how God designed all of nature!

After I checked out the asparagus yesterday, I walked around the grounds of Whispering Winds – listening to the birds singing, smelling the hyacinths, and taking pictures of the daffodils, budding lilacs, the redbud tree, the forsythia, the bleeding heart… I even had a short conversation with Gary Gopher again.

I plan to add some of the pictures to the Whispering Winds FaceBook page and the website later today or tomorrow. You may want to check them out. Or, better yet, come to Whispering Winds to see, hear, and smell spring for yourself.

Forsythia and Redbud outside the Sun Room