Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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In Praise of Spear-Grass

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 I wonder what the old North European ancestors would have called asparagus, had they known of it. Considering the ways along which the old tribal imaginations were wont to run, I'm guessing, probably, “spear-grass.”

It even kind of sounds like “asparagus.”

Oh asparagus, most ephemeral of seasonal delicacies. The Red Crests savored it back in old Romeburg days, of course: “quick as boiled asparagus,” Augustus Caesar was wont to say.

(Anyone who has ever tried to poach asparagus will understand that this means very quickly indeed.)

Things look different now, of course. Driving through rural Germany in the Spring some years back, I saw fields and fields and fields of asparagus, mostly for the domestic market. Per capita consumption of asparagus (spargel) is higher in Germany than anywhere else in the world.

Just about every restaurant where we ate that Spring had a separate asparagus menu tucked into the regular menu. You could put together an entire meal for yourself from one of these, with asparagus in every course—appetizer, soup, salad, entree—even, incredibly, dessert.

Savor while ye may, O ye lovers of Spring. Like Spring herself, asparagus season will soon pass by … just as quick as boiled asparagus.

What would they have called asparagus, those old tribal Germans and Celts, in their northern forests? “Spear-grass” is surely as good a name as any.

Among witches, heirs to the old tribal ways of Europe, some call it so still.





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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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