The AAM @ 60 with Ben Simons and Anke Van Wagenberg

There are just a handful of cultural and educational institutions that unite the five counties of the Mid-Shore of Maryland.  Those that come to mind immediately are such legendary schools as Washington College, UM’s Horn Point Labs, and Chesapeake College as well as those that celebrate our cultural heritage like the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the Sultana Educational Foundation.

But there is only one organization that has been successfully uniting the region’s centuries-old love affair with fine arts, and that would be the Academy Art Museum. And that remarkable center for art education and exhibitions hits an impressive milestone this year as it reaches its 60th year of existence and there is good reason to celebrate that fact.

Founded by local artists and collectors, the Academy has grown from relatively modest roots to a superb example of what a regional arts institution powerhouse can be.  Now with literally hundreds of classes, lectures, field trips, and, of course, world-class art exhibitions taking place every year, the AAM has rapidly becoming known nationally as the “small but mighty” art center.

When any institution of this caliber reaches 60 years, it is almost mandated that it take stock of its accomplishments to share with its members, donors, and the general public, what it has been able to achieve since it opened its doors. That it indeed the case with the Academy this year as it offers special programming and art exhibitions to celebrate this remarkable achievement.

It also was an excellent time to review the museum’s permanent collection with the intention of showcasing the very best of the best for visitors to enjoy the extraordinary diversity of visual art, sculpture and photography the AAM has secured through the generous donations of art collectors, many of them local, or through the wise and selective use of their modest annual acquisition funds.

The Spy sat down with AAM director Ben Simons and chief curator Anke Van Wagenberg this week to talk about the museum’s artwork and the difficult task of selecting 120 of the most significant examples from a total of 1,500 works which will be shown in two major exhibitions during the year.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum’s Diamond Exhibition Project please go here

 

Profiles in Spirituality: The Blessings that Come with Not Having Answers

With Father Bill Ortt off on a four-month sabbatical, Christ Church in Easton did what most churches do, which was to find a temporary replacement to continue religious services, provide pastoral care for the congregation, and keep educational programming on track. What Christ Church didn’t do what most churches do, was find a replacement from another denomination.

As the result of an agreement between the Episcopal and Lutheran Churches in 1999, the so-called “Altar and Pulpit Fellowship,” ministers can provide full pastoral support for each other’s congregations.

Another thing unexpected was the fact that there would be two, not one, interim ministers.

After attempting to retire several times from full-time ministry in Baltimore, husband and wife, the Rev. Laura Ingersol and Rev. Dr. Jerrett Hansen, have once again returned to the pulpit, at least temporarily.

And the Spy thought this might be an excellent opportunity to continue our conversations with spiritual leaders on the Mid-Shore on how communities and individuals can overcome differences, in matters of faith as well as politics.

While Laura and Jerrett could not directly address the country’s political environment, they did share some wisdom in our short conversation at the Parish office last week about how those with different religious beliefs can and must find common ground before focusing on what divides them. And part of that approach includes saying that they, nor anyone else, has all the answers.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Christ Church in Easton please go here

 

 

After the West Wing by George Merrill

My wife and I watch old movies on TV. We also watch reruns of some TV series. It’s nice not having to endure commercials. One night recently we elected to watch West Wing, a popular TV series that we enjoyed years ago. One of the perks of aging and its memory deficits is that when viewing an old movie or TV series we’ve seen, even when reading a book, I’d read years ago, it seems like a brand-new experience.

The series ran during the George W. Bush era. The country became enthralled with The West Wing. My wife, Jo, was an uncompromising West Wing junkie. Wednesday night became a kind of secular Sabbath during which time all normal activities were shelved to honor the latest episode. In fact, one year, when I proposed we go out for dinner on Wednesday, my birthday, she said we couldn’t; it was West Wing night.

The West Wing, first shown in 1999, was an instant success. Critiquing it, Atlantic Magazine rated it as one of the best TV series to date. It was skillfully written, and heart-fused, with characters easy to identify with, whose bantering with each other included generous portions of sparkling repartee. Watching it was fun and informative. The series’ political leaning was liberal idealism. However, the narrative played out less as party promotion than an examination of the complexities of governing during that era.

We settled in and watched two of the episodes. Inexplicably half way into the second one, I felt close to tears. It so surprised me that I dared not look at my wife lest she think I was either losing it or a sentimental old fool . . . or both.

I didn’t understand my reaction; what nerve had the revisiting of West Wing touched?

I watched an episode that involved the issue of a presidential pardon and the pressure capital punishment opponents were putting on the White House to grant a pardon to a convicted murderer on death row. It was a no win. If President Jed Bartlett did not pardon the man accused of three murders, he would earn the wrath of the victims’ survivors along with those holding the almost universal sense of justice that lives latent in all of us: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. That the state should take a life at all became a part of the agonizing that President Bartlett struggled with as he considered what his responsibility was as a human being as well as the president.

I remember thinking as Bartlett processed his thoughts with a priest – it’s clear the priest did not advocate capital punishment – how I would handle such a morally complex issue considering all the factors involved. In the end, Bartlett acted by not intervening and the execution took place as scheduled on a Monday morning. The scene was a portrait of a powerful man, a decent one with a sense of compassion and enormous responsibility having to make a horrible decision. It was eminently human and very tragic.

I was drawn into what was good drama while at the same time experiencing for myself what some committed public servants in government must struggle with. The burden of power is responsibility.

For all its liberal leanings, both sides of controversial issues of the day were debated, issues like the environment, refugees, education, race relations and gay rights, offering a balanced view of what the country was grappling with.

I realized what had moved me so: I was seeing a political world as I wished it were today. Perhaps I was mourning a world that never really existed.

In the way, The West Wing is presented, the cabinet and White House staff, although they frequently clash, like and trust each other. We see aspects of their humanity as it gets provoked by defeats or buoyed in victories. There are genuine bonds of affection among the principles who guide the country’s destiny. They take their jobs seriously and enjoy governing. They are professional. The characters are cast as genuinely interested in the people, and in serving the country. They function as a team.

If it is true that the art and entertainment of any era reflect the popular mood, this may not be good news.

I note with concern that after West Wing, two other government series were introduced on TV and have enjoyed significant popularity. One is called “Scandal,” the other, “House of Cards.” I watched most of both.

They create a very sinister portrait of the workings of politics and government, in America and in Britain. Both series savor of that forbidden allure that only evil can provide us. While I avowedly disdain such evil, I confess that I watched many episodes glued fast to the tube. It was like watching a boa constrictor swallowing a live pig; I found it as fascinating as it was repulsive. Contract killings, performed in the shadows serve the ends of Crisis Management Consultant and lover to the president, Olivia Pope, and her band of creepy associates. Those same bloody means served the very charming and unscrupulous American President, Francis Underwood (FU) or his conniving British Prime Minister counterpart, Francis Urquhart (FU) in the British and American versions of House of Cards.

The extent to which the murderous cut throat plotting dominates these series, it places them in another moral universe compared with The West Wing.

I find it no small irony that House of Cards and Scandal reflect today’s political atmosphere, a very different one prevailing at the time when The West Wing viewed, even considering the controversy surrounding the Bush presidency.

The political TV series following The West Wing make no attempt to credit government, its appointees or its elected officials with anything near having a vision or working from a set of ideals. They act from total expediency. They inhabit an amoral world where no holds are barred and the task is to win while destroying enemies.

At the time of the West Wing series, gun legislation and immigration were on the table. Today, refugees the world over are changing the face of nations. I’ve wondered if it may be immigrants that will help America reclaim its soul, the way African–Americans began restoring the soul of white America. Or will it be our young people who restore it?

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Global Vision 2020: The Mid-Shore’s Kevin White on Eyesight to the Most Needy

In a world that continues to become more complex and where simple solutions to humanity’s greatest problems are rarely possible, there are still moments of pure genius in finding low tech answers to man’s most difficult challenges.

In this case, it involves the most basic of a human being’s needs – the ability to see.

Currently, an astonishing 2.5 billion people on the planet are not able to read a simple eye chart, let alone read a book, seek educational opportunities, or even enjoy an evening’s sunset without corrective eyeglasses. But very few of those individuals, who are living amidst extreme poverty in the world’s most remote locations, have access to the resources that could provide literally clear vision.

That challenge has not stopped the Mid-Shore’s Kevin White from attacking this problem head on.  A retired marine officer, Maj. White,  has invented an extraordinarily simple method for sight diagnostics and the distribution of what might be eventually millions of affordable eyeglasses in places like in Mozambique and Ghana in Africa, and later, Afghanistan, South America, China and India.

In 2014, Kevin created “USee,” an affordable, transportable, easy-to-use vision correction kit designed to bring eyesight at remarkably affordable cost of $4.50 per pair of eyeglasses.

The kit includes a pair of 3D printed glasses with slide controlled vision lenses that allow the volunteer to find the best vision correction for each individual; a variety of different snap-in lenses that meet the vision needs of an individual and 250 pairs of different colored glasses for them to choose from.

These volunteers, many of whom are already working in these isolated communities on different humanitarian projects, bring these kits with them and have the capable of outfitting an entire village with corrective lens in the span or a day or two.

The Spy talked to White about the founding of Global Vision 2020, and how this simple program has all the potential to solving one of the our most challenging problem with a simple tool and a great vision.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Global Vision 2020 please go here

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Nation: Preparing for Memory Loss and Dementia with Integrace’s Dr. Tabassum Majid

The data speaks for itself. One in three Americans who are 65 years or older are facing some form of significant memory loss or dementia. This factoid is a sobering forecast for many seniors, but it also is a important reminder that it is better to be prepared for this inevitability rather than ignore it.

That is what Dr. Tabassum Majid is trying to make clear with her work as the Executive Director of Integrace Institute when she visits the Integrace Bayleigh Chase campus in Easton. After leaving the world of academia with a degree in biology and molecular medicine, which emphasized the translation of diagnostic indicators to the bedsides of older patients and their families, Dr. Majid is now using those skills to test and implement innovative, person-centered studies to enhance meaningful living for older individuals and families who face hard choices after the diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimers.

As part of her mission, Tabassum is starting a free educational series for family caregivers in Maryland, including  those on the Mid-Shore, to present evidence-based, practical information to help those caregivers understand the latest findings in dementia research, and the newest advancements in care to better navigate their loved one’s journey.

The Spy had the opportunity to talk about much of this a few weeks ago at Bayleigh Chase after her latest workshop to talk about the unique needs of families and professionals alike who are eager to maintain a high quality of life for loved ones and patients.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Integrace Institute or the Integrace Bayleigh Chase please go here.

Introducing Chesapeake College’s Sixth President Cliff Coppersmith

While Cliff Coppersmith has yet to move into his office in Wye Mills to begin his tenure as the sixth president of Chesapeake College, that didn’t stop the Spy from finding time with him for a quick chat on campus yesterday.

Dr. Coppersmith, who will officially assume his role in May, was in town briefly to meet with his future colleagues and pin down the logistics of moving from Montana, where he is currently serving as the dean and CEO of City College, the community college branch of Montana State University.

Coppersmith comes from a particularly unique background in community college teaching and administration, starting when he, himself, graduated as a young man from a community college in upper-state New York. Over the course of his career, he has spent nineteen years with the Pennsylvania College of Technology, a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University; and Utah State University – Eastern, formerly the College of Eastern Utah.

The Spy caught up with Dr. Coppersmith at Chesapeake College’s new Health Professions and Athletics Center to talk about his experiences in higher education, some of his priorities for Chesapeake College, and his excitement in returning to the East Coast to take on the vital task leading the Mid-Shore’s community college into a new decade of service.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College, please go here

Jerry Harris: A Hunter and Conservationist Who Is “Giving Back” by Kristi Moore

We are strolling with Jerry Harris on his 230-acre farm, Mallard Haven, when a group of ducks suddenly takes off from their marsh hiding spot. Harris, a committed conservationist and hunter, has created the perfect marshland habitat for migrating waterfowl for just this moment.

“Watching the birds come in, how they treat the marsh, how they fly around it, how they call—that whole symphony is quite intriguing to me,” Harris said. “I never tire of that.”

Harris, now 75, fell in love with waterfowl as a young boy when he started hunting, but has long seen the value of conservation over sport. On his farm, you shoot only what you can eat, and not one more. Those values were instilled in him from his first days hunting with his grandfather, Burr Love, at a family hunting cabin in the San Francisco Bay area.

”The first year when I was 11 or so, they felt I was too young to hunt, and so I got to pick the ducks. The second year, I got to wash the dishes, do the cooking, and pick the ducks, and the third year, I got to finally hunt.”

Over the years, Harris hunted with two other men who influenced his values about hunting and conservation: Louis Rapp, an old-time duck hunter and friend of his great uncle, and Ray Lewis, who taught him about the soil management technique Harris uses on his farm today.

“Over a period of 30 to 40 years, I hunted and gained extensive knowledge from all three of these people,” Harris said. “I was extraordinarily lucky to be able to partner with them over my lifetime.”

Living in New York in the early 1970s, Harris would visit Maryland’s eastern shore to hunt geese, and he recognized the area’s bountiful appeal to waterfowl. And to him. Harris, his wife, Bobbi, and their three retrievers, Maddie, Rusty, and Bo, now spend their winters on their eastern shore farmland before flying west to spend summers in Montana.

Even before he retired, Harris decided to devote much of his time to wetland conservation. He has been a member of Ducks Unlimited ever since he started a new Ducks Unlimited chapter as a student at University of California, Berkeley, and he has reached out to a variety of organizations, including Delta Waterfowl, Waterfowl Chesapeake, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and of course, Ducks Unlimited to determine how to best use the funds from the family foundation he and Bobbi set up. Wanting to preserve vital marshlands and “to give back some,” Bobbi and Jerry created a family foundation that dedicates most of its funding to wetland conservation, with a smaller portion going to secondary education.

We’re trying to demonstrate how collectively we can all make this a better place and preserve some of the rich heritage the Eastern Shore—Maryland, Delaware, Virginia—has had from a waterfowl standpoint.

All the lessons Harris absorbed from his hunting friends and experiences have turned him into a teacher for new generations of conservation managers. He thinks of Mallard Haven as a demonstration farm to teach others how they can use their properties to attract more waterfowl and how his moist soil management system attracts waterfowl and feeds their nutritional needs.

The farm is a natural maze of dirt paths, cornfields, wetlands, and a long trench that serves as freshwater storage. Depending on the time of year, it might look like another grain farm in the countryside, but when he wants to beckon ducks, Harris and his farm manager, Sam LaCompte, will flood pockets of his farmland, or impoundments as he calls them. At the end of the season slowly draining the water encourages the growth of smart weeds that provide a diverse, appetizing food source to migrating waterfowl.

“We’re trying to demonstrate how collectively we can all make this a better place and preserve some of the rich heritage the Eastern Shore—Maryland, Delaware, Virginia—has had from a waterfowl standpoint,” he said.

Harris is also helping facilitate a course that shows wildlife managers and leaders how hunting can balance with conservation. He was impressed with a course on the West Coast that UC Davis conducted with Ducks Unlimited and a local waterfowl conservation group, so this past winter, Harris and Dr. Chris Williams, wildlife ecology professor at the University of Delaware, developed and ran a similar course for the East Coast on Jerry’s Dorchester farms.

The first class, which included 10 students, recently ended and Harris considers it a success.

“None had experienced waterfowl hunting or shooting and over that three-day period, they went from 0 to 60 miles per hour. We’ve just seen their review of the program, and it was very exciting to read their comments and how it had changed their perception to the role hunting plays in wildlife conservation,” Harris said. “And that’s our goal—to make sure the future managers and leaders understand the role that hunting plays.”

Harris hopes to keep offering the course, serving as long as he can as a mentor to others, much as he was guided throughout his life.

This year, Horn Point Laboratory will honor Jerry Harris with its 2018 Chesapeake Champion award for his vision and leadership in marshland restoration and conservation. “We could not find a more fitting partner in our efforts to ensure our marshlands are preserved for wildlife habitat and coastal sustainability,” said Mike Roman, Director of Horn Point Laboratory. We are delighted to honor our good friend and devoted educator, Jerry Harris.”

The Chesapeake Champion celebration will be held Friday, April 27th, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Waterfowl Armory, Easton. Tickets are $50, sponsorships are available, and can be purchased online or by contacting Carin Starr at 410-221-8408.

Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to launch a new Marsh Ecology and Restoration Laboratory at Horn Point Laboratory. The new Lab will conduct vital research into the role marshes play in: providing critical habitat for waterfowl, birds, plants and animals; providing green infrastructure to mitigate erosion and flooding; and, filtering pollutants to improve water quality.

Jerry Harris, the Horn Point Laboratory 2018 Chesapeake Champion, talks about running a Dorchester County farm, which, with careful planning and management, turns marshland into a paradise for migrating ducks.

Kristi Moor is the Digital Communications Manager for University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science UMCES.

For more information on the Horn Point Laboratory please go here

 

Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition 2018: Chatting with the Winners

One of the great little gems of the classical music scene on the Mid-Shore is the biannual Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition. Since 2004, this program brings some of the best young talents in the world to the Eastern Shore for a weekend of performance to the delight of appreciative audiences but also to receive critical feedback from experts on performance and technique.

That competition took place over the last few days, and the Spy found a way to interview the two winners who tied for the Gold Medalist award this year after they finished brunch at Hanna and Peter Woicke’s lovely home in St. Michaels on Sunday morning.

We talk to members of the Merz Trio and Trio St. Bernard about their performance as well as some of the feedback they received from the judges.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition please go here

Ladybugs by George Merrill

Artistic types, like those who paint, write, sculpt, garden or research, spend a lot of time alone. They’re often accused of being temperamental, even flaky. I prefer to think of such idiosyncrasies as signs of their complex personalities.

Many have a loners’ streak. They find energy in being by themselves. I, for one, have to be intentional about being social. It’s not that I am a misanthrope; just a dreamer. Dreamers, in their several pursuits, work with very little outside material, as it were. They try to draw most from their own experiences – from their heads and hearts which, occasionally, can be inspiring. Of course, there are times when what they draw out from themselves bombs. When artistic types begin drawing blanks, then they know that’s the time to get out there and mix it up with others.

I do have friends, dear and devoted ones. It occurs to me they may be friends precisely because we don’t see each other that often. There’s always the danger that frequent contact might change the equation in the way old married couples are often heard to say, “For better or for worse, please God, not for lunch.”

I bring this up because of the two lady bugs that became a part of my normally solitary life in the last couple of weeks. They just showed up.

I began looking forward to seeing them each morning as I entered my studio. I now had two friends whom I did not mind being with all day. They, too, were perfectly content to have me around. I never intruded upon their routines. They never bothered me. It was the kind of presence that can satisfying, a kind of special presence that requires so little other than gratefully acknowledging the fact of who or what the presence might be.

I believe etymologists would identify my new roommates as Coccinella. Their elytra is colored deep red or orange with distinct black spots.

I could not identify gender, whether the two were mates or partners, were kin of some kind, or just good friends.

When first entering my studio, I’d look to see exactly where they were. For a while I might not see them, but as the morning wore on, I’d catch the sight of one or even both walking along a slat of the venetians blinds that hang at my windows. When I saw the ladybugs, I would leave my chair and go for a closer look. I welcomed them, and then returned to my chair, satisfied in knowing my companions were safe and well.

They had mixed feelings about being touched. On some days, I could coax one from the slat onto my finger. He or she seemed content to explore for a minute or so. Suddenly, though, it would hop; fly, really, making a soft sputtering sound, while going a short distance. It was time to leave the ladybug alone.

I’ve read how sailors, making solo ocean voyages, welcome petrels or other seabirds landing on their sailboat. The birds behave like hitch hikers, riding for a short time and then getting off. Sailors describe a kind of mystical bond that develops between them and the birds. The skippers talk to them and the birds listen. Then, one morning the skipper exits his cabin, goes to the cockpit ready to chat only to find that his fragile defense against the vast loneliness of the open sea has vanished. A simple presence made all the difference in the world. Each skipper described with undisguised grief the impact made on him when his hitch hiker left the sailboat. They mourned the loss and felt lonely.

It’s odd to say but we bond not only with each other, also with other species (dogs and cats), but objects as well. Aging people, when ready to unload a lifetime of collected stuff, will agonize over surrendering an object, some trinket or a photo that has accrued a significance, far beyond its material worth. They either keep it, offer it to the kids, or pitch it and then mourn its loss.

I can understand why frequent flyers like sea birds welcome a place to land and rest. Just why the ladybugs chose to inhabit my studio is not clear. Their reputation is legendary in helping farmers rid their crops of pesky aphids and other insects that destroy the harvest. But that’s all outdoorsy stuff, working in the fields. I have no plants or any vegetation in my studio. I wash daily. Why my studio?

It’s finding a warm place to winter.

Who would want to be out in the chill and wind of winter? The ladybugs were just hunkering down in my studio like Eastern Shore retirees that go south for the winter. It’s a way of getting through the bleak days until the sun feels warm again, crops grow and eating outside is fun.

One day I couldn’t find them.

I entered my studio and went to the slats to wish them a good day. They weren’t there. I looked around but didn’t see anything. My studio is painted in white and the rug on the floor is an off-white. It shows anything that falls on it.

I took my chair as usual and then saw a speck on the rug, half again as big as the head of a ten- penny nail. I got up to see and sure enough it was one of the ladybugs.

I had the horrible feeling that I’d stepped on her. I reached down to pick her up. She slid from my fingers. I was relieved that she was intact – indicating she’d not been squashed. I’ve seen her dormant before and by picking her up she’d start exploring my finger. But she didn’t try this time as she had in the past. She was dead.

I was sad. Fearing the worst, I began scouring the studio to find the other ladybug. Nowhere to be seen. Leaving the studio late one afternoon I went to open the door, and there on the threshold was the other ladybug.

Again, saddened, I picked her up. She, too, had died.

I noticed that both ladybugs did not die, as so many insects do, with their legs pointed in the air. Instead, ladybugs meet their maker, heads down and their elytra up, their cheerful colors in the open for everyone to see.

I believe they prefer being remembered that way.

Not that strange, when I think about it. I’ve often seen photographs accompanying the obituaries of septuagenarians or octogenarians that can only have been taken forty years prior to their deaths. For Coccinella and homo sapiens, vanity extends beyond the grave.

I shall miss them.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

 

Food Friday: Asparagus Time!

Forget about that forecast for snow tomorrow. Do not listen to those weather reports. Spring has sprung, and one of the first harbingers of the joyous season of renewal is the deliciousness that is asparagus. Maybe you are the hardy sort who plants it, or you are like the rest of us, and you are a loyal consumer. Either way, it’s time. Get out there and plant, or go out and buy a big, verdant bunch of super fresh asparagus.

Just to let you know what sort of household I live in – my children thought that pickles were green, leafy vegetables. It was difficult to get them to eat anything exotic (read: healthy) from the produce section. I have never been a big fan of stinky, cooked vegetables either, so they must come by it naturally. It wasn’t until I went to college that I finally ate a cooked pea. Mostly because there was no one in the dining hall who would accommodate my eating peccadillos. I drew the line at Brussels sprouts that were served there;talk about stinky!

I still don’t like vegetables that have been stewed beyond recognition. And I resist kale on principal. Aren’t we lucky there are so many ways to enjoy asparagus? Lightly roasted, gently steamed, broiled, wrapped with bacon, folded into pasta, trembling on the edge of ancestral china, lightly dusted with grated egg yolks, rolled in sesame seeds, on top of pizza, in a quiche …

Here is a duel between a Food52 recipe for asparagus and pasta, and one by Martha. I am inclined toward the Food52 version, just because I have all the ingredients, and don’t need to shovel the driveway to go to the store for mascarpone.

Creamy Asparagus, Lemon, and Walnut Pasta
Serves 2

7 ounces dried spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
1 pound asparagus spears
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a strong boil. Season with salt, then add pasta. Cook according to package directions for “al dente.” Set aside about 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

While water is coming to a boil, cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the remainder into 1/3-inch rounds, leaving the tips intact. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat for five minutes. Add asparagus, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover pan and cook asparagus for 4 to 8 minutes, until tender to the bite. Turn off heat and discard garlic.

Once pasta is finished, purée 1/3 of the cooked asparagus and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until smooth. Try to avoid blending the asparagus tips, for aesthetic reasons.

Add puréed asparagus back to pan, along with sliced asparagus. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, and more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce loose. Heat on low for a minute or two to allow pasta to absorb some of the sauce. Serve immediately, topped with chopped walnuts.

https://food52.com/recipes/28279-creamy-asparagus-lemon-and-walnut-pasta

Egg Noodles with Asparagus and Grated Egg Yolks
Serves 4 to 6

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, stems cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces, tips cut into 2-inch lengths
12 ounces wide egg noodles
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons fresh juice
8 ounces mascarpone
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (2 ounces)
4 hard-cooked egg yolks, grated on the large holes of a box grater

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add pasta to water; cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta water. Return pasta to pot with asparagus. Stir in zest and juice and both cheeses; toss to coat. Add pasta water, little by little, to adjust consistency until creamy. Sprinkle with grated yolks and pepper; serve.

https://www.marthastewart.com/1515859/egg-noodles-asparagus-and-grated-egg-yolks

If you want to start planning for your asparagus future, you had best get to work on your asparagus bed. We aren’t going to try them this year in our new raised garden bed. We have a very humble 4 feet by 8 feet raised bed that we built last weekend. I feel like Mrs. Ingalls out on the prairie with our six tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, 2 basil plants, a dozen beans, and a whole row of nasturtiums. Everything will be edible and beautiful. The bunnies are sure to appreciate all our efforts, thank you, Mary Lou!

I just didn’t think that we would be vigilant and enthused enough to attempt asparagus on this first outing. The weeding alone would disqualify me. Asparagus plants do not tolerate weeds. So think about that as you start nibbling away on your own the sweet, tender asparagus spears you bought at the farmers’ market this weekend. https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/growing-asparagus/7343.html

“Asparagus, when picked, should be no thicker than a darning needle.”
Alice B. Toklas