Dad stood hunched over the kitchen sink snapping the bases off the thick asparagus stalks, tossing them in the pan. I cannot see asparagus without remembering the walk through the woods to the grassy field between the forest and the highway in New Jersey where the wild asparagus grew. Mom carried the basket. We children searched randomly for the thin green three-foot monoliths and snapped the stalks at the base and laid them tenderly in her basket. Mom had trained our eye. And I cannot remember that asparagus field without remembering the thick blackberry thickets along the same highway in New Jersey where we picked blackberries by the bucketful and took them home to boil with sugar and pectin, straining out the infinitude of stony seeds, pouring deep purple goo into pint jars, topping each with a quarter-inch of hot paraffin wax to seal the jars against pathogens. That black blackberry jam tasted so delicious on crispy English muffins toasted brown in the broiler. And I cannot remember that blackberry jam without remembering the asparagus walk and how we came home covered in ticks and never again took that wild asparagus walk. I still love blackberry jam.
Wild asparagus in long and spindly: