Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spring, Sproing

I saw a bunch of white asparagus at the store this weekend, and I thought, "Yup, spring is coming." Then I thought of a time, a few years ago, when I was in Paris visiting the Musée d'Orsay, and I saw this picture.

Manet painted this single asparagus spear in 1880. The story is that some friend of Proust's, a guy named Ephrussi, bought Manet's painting of a whole bunch of asparagus, and paid him more than he had been asking for it. As a thank you, Manet painted this one more spear for him. Aw! Giving each other pictures of asparagus spears, it's what dudes do.

Anyway, when I was looking at this painting I was in the company of a very smart professor of literature, a funny, older guy and a real bon viveur. He exclaimed at how beautiful the asparagus was, and I said something like, "Really? Because to me it looks so wilted! Given how phallic asparagus is, and its associations with fertility and the rites of spring all over Europe, don't you think that by painting this one solitary asparagus spear in this way, Manet is showing a little anxiety about his masculinity, or even casting aspersions on the masculinity of his patron? Manet was almost fifty at this point. Maybe he was worried about his potency, you know? And the way the asparagus is partly off the edge of the table, it's like it's been dropped there and forgotten. It's killing me! I mean, it doesn't look beautiful or delicious, it looks slightly diseased and limp and sad!" Yes, I sounded basically that insufferable.

The professor chuckled, looked at me, and said, "Becky, you need to read less and eat more."

Good advice.

So that was my grocery shopping/art appreciation moment for the weekend. Spring is coming, though it's cold as a witch's tit here today. How are y'all? Any signs of spring where you are?

19 comments:

Cassie said...

We got a nice little springtime blizzard today.

Witch's tit, indeed.

FoN said...

I agree - not the proudest looking vegetable of all time.

Sadly, no signs of spring here. It's just winter and cold and crappy and sucky as far as the eye can see. It's depressing. The best I can say is that it's not pitch black outside by 5:30 pm anymore. I get light until about 7 pm now. (sigh)

Michele said...

Lots of signs of spring here. We sat out on the patio and read books all afternoon. Best way to spend a Sunday.

I love asparagus but you are right that one does look a little limp.

A Day That Is Dessert said...

I'm with you - looks wilted to me :)

Amy said...

You are too funny! Well, as you know, we are at the end of summer here, so cooler weather is welcome!

And that painting grosses me out a bit. The colors just seem a little sickly, and it does look a bit sad and limp. I was gonna say that I like my asparagus more firm and less wilted, but I don't want you to think I'm NOT talking about asparagus. So I won't say that.

The Dental Maven said...

Imagine what it would have looked like if Manet had access to some Levitra.

Coffee with Cathy said...

We've had daffodils and crocuses here in north Alabama for a couple weeks and I've noticed some unidentified trees budding out. But we've still got freezing temperatures so I'm sure winter isn't through with us yet.

Ginny Marie said...

I had to put on my snow boots to get the paper this morning. We've stopped shoveling our driveway with the false hope that it will get warm enough during the day to melt the snow!

fraught said...

A sproing of yellow croci, if that's the right plural. And some precocious buds on a few trees that are likely to get their little heads frozen off but good.

I'm lobbying hard for one snowfall worth some salt, which we haven't yet seen here. Salt, yes; snow, no. Gotta love the ice belt.

abdpbt said...

I agree, it looks kind of old and white, like old dog poo.

Seriously.

Keely said...

Yeah, not the most vibrant looking vegetable.

Still cold here. We've learned not to expect spring before May. If it comes early, bonus. But once it snowed in June.

Camp Papa said...

As Sigmund Freud probably really meant to say, "Sometimes a spear of asparagus is just a spear of asparagus."

Also, the are signs of hummingbirds returning, and the camelias, and even the azaleas are blooming.

The Messy Mom said...

I like that interpretation. I went outside with my 18 month old today and some of our daffodils were in bloom. He said flower for the first time and we picked one which is now sitting in a glass on our window sill. I think it would probably make a nice painting.

Michele said...

I saw some daffodils in an office park--they were probably forced. I'm tired of the cold! But I feel bad for complaining when I live in the South.

Casey said...

Ha, nice interpretation of the painting, I'm with you. It looked like a dead fish to me though..

We're in FL so it's spring for sure. It did dip into the 50's today but it should be up in the mid 70's by this afternoon. I know, I'm rubbing it in but come summertime, nobody will want to be here in FL.

Jenni said...

still freezing here, 20s at night and 30s during the day. although my daffodills are poking through the ground.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Love spring, love the Musée d'Orsay, love asparagus, love your smartass comment about Manet's painting, love anyone who says "cold as a witch's tit" (although the expression I was taught was "colder than...").

Darn you, Suburban Matron! It's going to take me weeks to get caught up with all your fun posts. I'd better hire a maid to take care of the house.

PS I like your politics posts very much. I checked all those out before declaring my love. You and I are TRES compatible.

Sara said...

First of all, thanks for using 'cold as a witch's tit.' Makes me feel right at home.

Second, thanks for again making me feel less alone- in finding phalli symbolism all over the place.

That painting was totally limp.

Becky said...

LOL, totally, totally limp.

And Fantastic Forrest, thanks so much for commenting, so I could find your fab blog! I think we are compatible!