lesa medley: for the love of asparagus

#13 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

Not too long ago, I met a kindred spirit while roaming the wilds of the internet. Perhaps it was the aroma of freshly baked bread or our mutual love of velvety chocolate pudding that drew us together. I’m sure a penchant for poetry and food memoirs also had something to do with it.

In any case, it’s been fun getting to know Lesa Medley, Legal Assistant/Office Manager by day, poet by night, and I’m happy she agreed to join our little Potluck. She’s brought along a touch of Spring today — a poem about the importance of honoring inklings and intuition, which was recently published in the anthology, Shared Light (Willow Glen Poetry Project, 2011), a funny-in-hindsight story about wild asparagus, and a favorite pasta recipe. I’d heard of wild onions before, but never wild asparagus. Clearly I need to get out more. ☺

Lesa: This was just one of those times where everything seems to come together effortlessly. Doesn’t happen very often, but when it does . . .

I lead writing groups and sometimes put together exercise sheets with prompts, phrases, poems and words. One day I pulled one of them out and a phrase and a couple of the words jumped out at me and I started writing. I have been working hard at making some changes in my life and I think that is where it started from and what was in the back of my mind at the time. It all kinda just flowed together from there. Man, I love when that happens, and it has only happened a couple of times or so for me. I can’t wait for it to happen like that again!

via garden beth

The Winds of Change
by Lesa Medley

There were signs and signals all Winter
they were all around me,
if I had been paying attention . . .
and if I had been open, and receptive,
alert to what the universe was trying to tell me.

If I had taken the time to get still,
to be quiet and just listen
to those small, sweet voices,
those whispers from deep inside;
my own intuition was speaking to me
telling me what I need to do,
what I must do.

It was there all along,
the guidance I was seeking,
my inner compass
was directing me, nudging me
to my own true north.

It is now Spring,
the winds of change are blowing,
I am paying attention and I am listening.
I don’t need to be afraid or weak,
I just need to find the courage and the strength
to do what I must do.
I am ready, to take that first step,
it may be a baby step . . .
but it will be the right step,
heading in the direction that I am to go.

Copyright © 2011 Lesa Medley. All rights reserved.

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via Zero-X

In my family we have called it “aspergrass” for as long as I can remember. Every time I cook asparagus, I am reminded of this story:

In the Spring of 1975, my family lived on 1-1/5  acres in Terrebonne, Oregon. I was a junior in high school and one Saturday my younger sister Carla and I went into town (Redmond) with our parents. We were in the old green station wagon and Carla and I were in the back seat.

We took the back way home from town, along Helmholtz. There was wild asparagus growing alongside the road and all of a sudden my mom decided we needed to stop and pick some. Right then and there! The place they chose to stop: right in front of my boyfriend Mark’s house! (I can’t imagine how they could have possibly known that so I don’t think they did.) I was absolutely mortified! Carla was mortified! We both instantly slid to the floor behind the front seats and refused to either get back up on the seats or get out and help pick the asparagus!

And there we stayed until they were finished and we drove away and I felt we had gotten far enough away to feel that the coast was clear to get back up on the seats. People picked wild asparagus all the time and it wouldn’t have been a big deal at all, except it was to me because it was right in front of Mark’s house! To this day, I do not know whether Mark ever knew my parents picked asparagus in front of their house; I certainly never said anything and I absolutely would never have admitted that I was even there. (Well, until now, I guess!)

ASPARAGUS PASTA

I found this recipe in a magazine years ago (Country Woman, I think), and it is one of my favorites. I make it a lot in the Spring and Summer. (Originally from Barbara Calhoun, Marquette Heights, Illinois.)

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh asparagus (sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces)
1 pound angel hair pasta
8 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook asparagus in boiling salted water, 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to kettle to keep warm.

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel.

In bacon drippings sauté onion until soft. Add asparagus and pepper, heat through.

Quickly toss together pasta, asparagus mixture, bacon, butter, cream and cheese.

Serve immediately.

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Lesa Medley has been writing in one form or another for as long as she can remember, and is legendary among family and friends for her newsy, novel-length letters, especially in high school and college. These days, she writes mostly poetry, and recently started attending and participating in local open mic poetry events. That has been a major leap out of her comfort zone! She has led writing groups and classes for several years and is always awed and inspired by the writing of others. Lesa also loves to cook, listen to music, and she has rediscovered that knitting is a good way to relax and relieve stress.

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Previously: Menu/Giveaway/Door PrizesApril Pulley SayreMary QuattlebaumHelen FrostLinda AshmanGail Gerwin, Martha Calderaro, Kathi Appelt, Robyn Hood Black, Charles Waters, Adele Kenny, Linda Baie.

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Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

35 thoughts on “lesa medley: for the love of asparagus

  1. I love asparagus. The very first soup I tried was a creamy asparagus soup around 15 years back, I think it was pretty much a success, but it was so effortful doing it (at least back then) that I didn’t have the energy to do it again. This one though looks particularly tempting as we are on a pasta-mania recently here in our home.

    I also love these lines from Lesa’s poetry:
    “If I had taken the time to get still,
    to be quiet and just listen
    to those small, sweet voices,
    those whispers from deep inside;
    my own intuition was speaking to me
    telling me what I need to do,
    what I must do.”

    — again I am reminded of Neruda’s Keeping Quiet. Just moments of blissful silence, then we find ourselves again and again. Thank you Lema and Jama!🙂

    Note to Jama: Yes! We should definitely go out more often. That is my *note to self* too.🙂

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    1. Your creamy asparagus soup sounds yummy! This pasta recipe looks easy so I hope you’ll try it.

      It’s quite a challenge sometimes to “keep quiet” and really listen, but I’ve always been one to trust my intuition. Change of any kind comes with its challenges, but the first step is to listen to the voice within.

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  2. Hi Lesa and Jama – The asparagus pasta looks SO good, and when I read that bacon was one of the ingredients, I knew we had a winner! I also loved your poem about intuition. It reminds me to listen to mine and that the way to do that is to slow down and be quiet once in awhile. 🙂

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  3. Myra took my favorite lines, but I enjoyed every line of your poem Lesa, of listening to that inner voice instead of all those outside noises trying hard to enter. Asparagus is one of our spring delights & your recipe looks delicious. I love your story & remember of couple of times when I slid down the backseat, hoping no one would see me. I guess it’s that teenaged inner voice speaking too! Thanks Lesa and Jama, too.

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    1. Lesa’s story did remind me of my own awkward adolescence. Seems like everything your parents do can be embarrassing; I’m sure similarly mortifying things happened to me, though I can’t remember them now. But at the time . . .

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  4. Lesa, such a great reminder to pay attention to our intuitive knowledge. Wishing you the best as you venture out to do more open mics. I’d like to try more of those myself. And I’ll definitely try your “aspergrass” recipe!

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  5. I haven’t yet taken the baby steps I need to take to eat asparagus, but I love to think of it as asparagrass… and laugh to think of it growing wild somewhere. I’m sure Mark would have thought well of such a thrifty family. ☺

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    1. I’m surprised you haven’t tried asparagus! I love it in stir fries. It might be fun to ask Mark now whether he ever saw them, or what he might have thought about it back then had he seen them.🙂

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  6. I love roasting the asparagus with some olive oil, sea salt, hot pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar. Mmm…
    Thanks for sharing your poem and story. My oldest is getting to the age where I embarrass him and I can imagine that scenario playing with him.

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  7. Poetry and asparagus – can’t go wrong with either. My mother made creamed asparagus, now I prefer it grilled. Bacon sounds like a nice accent. My daughter would eat only the asparagus tips when she was a toddler, now she refuses to eat it at all. Oh well, more for the rest of us!

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  8. Lesa and Jama, another wonderfully winning post! I can imagine Lesa’s poem as a gift to a friend who might be experiencing a challenging time of transition and growth – very powerful.

    “I am paying attention and I am listening.” Love that, of course. The essence of creating poetry, I think.

    I have family memories (from a couple different generations, mind you!) of teenagers hunkering down in the back seat of a car, or front seat of a truck, to escape notice and embarrassment. Universal I guess! And thanks for the chuckle at “aspergrass.”

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    1. I guess adolescent embarrassment is universal and cannot be avoided no matter what. It’s a strange time of wanting to be noticed yet wishing you could disappear sometimes.🙂

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  9. I love Lesa’s poetry and am lucky enough to be able to hear her at local open mic events because we are in-person friends, too!

    What I love best about this poem in particular is the reminder to be quiet and to pay attention.

    Thank you, Lesa and Jama (I’ll pass on the aspergrass thaough)

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      1. My problem with asparagus (as with so many veggies) is the texture.🙂 I can eat it, it’s just not a fav. The open mics are a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to having the time to get back to them, after Lily has hatched her eggs and moved on. Right now she’s a full time job.

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  10. I was away (as you know) and was saving up your poetry potluck to savor whenI returned home. What a great start here! I’m printing up this poem to go on my pile of poems I read before bedtime. Thank you both for sharing! (I love asparagas!)

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