Asparagus and a rant 5/5/2021

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  • New & noteworthy: ASPARAGUS ASPARAGUS ASPARAGUS. TONS of herbs available. Also incoming this week are collard greens, a small batch of baby hakurei turnips, a very small round of “young” leeksbutterhead lettuce, and I’m sure some additional goodies I can’t think of right now.
  • ICYMI: We have our own in-house bread fresh every day (Tuesday thru Sunday, that is) — that’s baguettes, Plain Jane sandwich bread, white sourdough boules, and multigrain Sweet Hearty. (All varieties available fresh until sold out, almost always available frozen. All made exclusively with Small Valley Milling’s certified organic flours and grains.)
  • This week’s fresh McGrath’s Bakehouse breads: Cinnamon Raisin, Sesame & Cheddar, and Three Seed (plus the standard Original, Sesame, and Irish Oatmeal). I don’t know why some of them aren’t appearing online at this moment, but —
  • Please note — due to inventory controls to prevent overselling, many items will show out of stock on the website even if we have them in store.
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What we ate for dinner on May 1, 2019, and almost exactly what we ate for dinner on May 1, 2021. Normal things feel good right now.

The asparagus is here.

This is my most-anticipated week of the year. Sometime in February I begin counting down. Ten weeks to go, I tell myself. Just six now. Any day.

Of course, the arrival of asparagus lacks the precision of a rocket launch, so the final weeks and days are often rife with both excitement and frustration.

We usually get a little trickle at first (as we did this past Saturday), and I bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared of a late frost or…I don’t know what. I’m prone to worrying.

But then, finally, inevitably, it arrives. Despite all my worrying, the soil and the seasons have done their thing.

When the first BIG delivery shows up, as it did today, I feel like I am exhaling an entire winter’s held breath. I say to myself, “We made it.” In many years, there are tears. I really don’t like winter, and asparagus is proof that it is over. We made it.

Because I can’t help but view the seasons as allegory for everything else going on in my life, this year my excitement and relief are a little tempered.

I mean, don’t get me wrong — my first bites of asparagus, tossed with olive oil and salt, gently charred on the grill on a warm evening, simple and straightforward and yet the very embodiment of the complexity and beauty of spring — those first bites were transcendent. I wriggled my body close to Dusty’s, sitting next to me on the couch while we watched 30 Rock, and said, “We made it.”

And in one very literal sense, we have. We did. We made it.

And in another sense, but it’s not quite time to fully exhale just yet.

Before I knew that this was Asparagus Week, I had a rant percolating. I wanted to write a passionate, earnest, pleading, and, yes, ANGRY rant about mask-resistant visitors to the store; to tell you about the woman who came in specifically to argue that our mask policy put us afoul of the ADA (nope); to put forth my case for why if you are opposed to government mandates and lockdowns you should take *extra* seriously your ability and responsibility to mitigate risks to yourself and others.

But then! ASPARAGUS.

But then again also — we might be through winter, but we’re not yet out of the woods.

Maybe just a mini-rant.

First a disclaimer of sorts. Radish & Rye, as a business, is apolitical. Dusty and Julia, well, we might have some opinions, but — and I realize even this is somewhat controversial — one of those opinions is that the business itself does not have political opinions. Any opinions expressed in this newsletter are mine and mine alone, but since no one, especially me, draws a very hard distinction between the business as an entity and Dusty and me as people, I’m hesitant to talk about anything that might be construed as political.

But I’m going to talk about masks anyway, because I don’t think that this can fairly be considered a political issue (though I know it is). I’m not talking about government mask mandates, I’m only talking about mask-wearing. I’m talking about mask-wearing by private individuals in private businesses. I’m talking about my right as a business owner to protect my staff and my customers. That shouldn’t be political.

I’m also talking about personal responsibility — about our ability and our duty to take individual action to protect and support each other for the good of our community and our society. That shouldn’t be political.

I didn’t hang a sign on the front door of a store that says “MASKS REQUIRED” because the government told me I had to (though they did). I did it because we opened for in-person business in the middle of a pandemic before any of our staff were vaccinated or eligible for vaccination, hoping to serve a broad diversity of people, including many who may be at high risk for complications from a COVID infection, and having worn a mask all day every day myself for the preceding year I can tell you that it’s a little annoying but it’s not that bad — I did it because I believed (and believe) that it’s a very small, very simple thing we can do that can go a long way to mitigate the risk to all of us.

If you ignore that sign and choose to come in without a mask, or you deliberately pull your mask away from your face or below your nose (or all the way down!) while you’re shopping and interacting with us, well, I’m not sure how to read that other than really blatant disrespect and disregard for us as people. Your eye rolls when I ask you to pull it up certainly confirm that you just don’t care about us, your fellow human beings.

The folks like this are thankfully very few, and we’ve only had one person who seemed like her entire purpose in coming in was to pick a fight, but it seems so absurd to me that it should be a thing *at all* that it gets to me, perhaps far more than it should.

COVID-19 is real. By now nearly all of us at least know someone who’s had it. Many have had it themselves. Too many know someone who’s died from it.

Face masks help prevent the spread of airborne illnesses like COVID-19. We’re trying to avoid getting COVID-19.

Please wear a face mask, and please keep it on your face.

And if you really really can’t — please use our curbside service. It costs you literally nothing extra.

And if you are really really angry at the government for the lockdowns and the mask mandates — please know that all that has literally nothing to do with us. We’re asking you to wear a mask for our sake, and the finger you’re flipping by resisting doing so is aimed squarely at us, not at any politician.

I can’t say this enough — your resistance to wearing a mask feels like you are flipping us the bird. It tells us you do not care about our safety and health, and that you don’t even have the decency or courtesy to pretend you care for the ten minutes it takes you to shop.

And if you’re just so angry about government intervention or whatever that you just can’t treat your fellow human beings like human beings, please for just one moment consider that the best way to avoid further restrictions and to get existing restrictions lifted is to do whatever you can in your own life to reduce the spread.

Like wearing a mask.

Maybe that didn’t turn out to be so “mini”.

But, um, just a couple more things —

1. I’m all worked up about how rude mask-resisters are, but we’re also ready to relax one of our truly self-imposed restrictions — we’re raising the occupancy limit from six-ish to eight-ish, having observed that we can safely accommodate eight shoppers at once.


We’re so close, guys. Let’s get there together.



P.S. I don’t consider those plastic shields to be masks. If you’re wearing one and I notice, I’ll give you a disposable surgical mask and ask you to wear it instead or in addition. </rant>

P.P.S. If you forgot your mask, we are absolutely happy to give you one.