My second quotation is from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the brand-new book from Barbara Kingsolver and her family. It's an extraordinary book, and I haven't read very far into it yet. My original quote idea was three paragraphs from chapter 1 that begin, "We'd surely do better, if only we knew any better." (Go read them; they're quite thought-provoking!) There's a question in there about what asparagus plants look like in August. I have my neighbor Rhoda to thank for the fact that I actually know the answer to this question!
Anyway, someone convinced me that the three paragraphs would be too long, so I went searching for another quote. This was not hard: practically any paragraph in the four chapters I've read would be an effective pull-quote. I've settled on the following, which takes asparagus (and its unusual growing cycle) and goes deeper:
"From the outlaw harvests of my childhood, I've measured my years by asparagus. I sweated to dig it into countless yards I was destined to leave behind, for no better reason than that I believe in vegetables in general, and this one in particular. Gardeners are widely known and mocked for this sort of fanaticism. But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnation of the spring equinox, who's to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?"