Envision me singing, “This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus,” as I snap the ends off a pick-up-stick pile of bright spears, then toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, rosemary salt and pepper. It’s my foodie-mom version of The 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” My kids love the silly lyrics as much as they love roasted asparagus (especially when wrapped in “Italian bacon,” aka prosciutto). It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to the line, “Let the sun shine, let the sun shine in,” though, like any person connected with the seasons, it’s about time we all do that. Outside. With arms raised to welcome the warm rays.

I’m ready for actual spring … and asparagus! Y’all know I’m not a gardener, yet I’ve read about the arduous effort it takes to grow asparagus: determine location (one plant may grow for 15 years); assess the temperature (asparagus doesn’t like frost); ensure proper depth for seeds (so stalks grow vertically); wait 3-4 years if growing it from seed or plant “crowns” (the bud and root) to receive a crop the next year. Then care for the “ferns," the post-season plant that ensures the next year’s harvest. Whew!

I’ve also heard generational stories of Idahoans foraging for asparagus. Though not native to North America, asparagus once grew “wild” alongside Idaho’s highways and in ditches. As a budding forager myself, every year I intend to go out looking. But where and when to begin? What am I looking for? How to cut the stalks? Like morel hunting, I dare not ask anyone to take me (it’s considered rude to ask seasoned foragers to divulge their prized locations). An internet search has shed some light on these questions. I need to commit to exploring and find a way to entice my kids to come, too. Surely, our revered spring veggie will taste better after a day of wandering through meadows … and sunshine!

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