Tuesday, April 19, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--April 13, 2016

For decades, Dr. Lester Shaffer took care of folks around here. This legend of a man was gone long before I came, but I know he must have been smart. For one, you don’t deliver more than 10,000 babies without learning a thing or two. And second, I’ve learned he had keen powers of observation.

You see, Dr. Shaffer had a phrase for this crazy weather we’ve been having lately. When Mother Nature can’t decide whether she wants to see tree blossoms and summer clothes or snowflakes and winter coats, Dr. Shaffer called that “catching weather.” Catching weather has nothing to do with spring baseball or even fishing. Instead it has to do with folks, especially kids, catching whatever illness is going around.

Sure enough, recently our children have caught every sickness they come in contact with. On our long way to my brother-in-law’s wedding in northwest Ohio, it started with our daughter coming down with a nasty cold. Not only have our children taken turns passing that around, but they also swapped germs with their Tennessee cousins and brought home an intestinal bug. Catching weather has us in its grips this spring, and it doesn’t seem to be letting go. 

But we’ll be just fine. Just as I know that wise doctor was right about catching weather, I know it will pass. The germs will die off. The sun will warm us again. The leaves will burst forth. Our fingers will dig into the dirt and rocks to plant a few beans in the garden. The ticks will find us, and we’ll wonder why on earth we keep those loud guineas anyway.

I know catching weather will come around again, but at least all the sickness teaches me to appreciate the times in between, the times of health and hard work and happiness. May those in-between times be longer and sweeter for you and yours in this beautiful season of bluebirds and phlox blossoms and general springtime glory.


In between bowls of chicken broth and nibbles of dry toast, we’ve had a chance to enjoy some tastes of spring in the form of the bountiful fresh asparagus in the stores right now. I’d never tasted asparagus until I was an adult, but I’m sold on it. I like to nibble on it even raw, but our kids gobble it up like candy when I roast it like this.

Roasted Asparagus

fresh asparagus
olive oil
coarse kosher salt

First trim the asparagus spears. If you’ve never eaten fresh asparagus, do this by cutting off the ends that have already been cut. These ends tend to be tough and dried out. How much to trim off can be tricky, but usually an inch or so should suffice. I test to see if a knife cuts through the stalk easily. If not, I cut off more. I also nibble here and there. If it’s hard to chew and woody, more needs cut off.

Next lay out the trimmed asparagus on a cookie sheet. Drizzle it with a little olive oil and toss it around to coat it lightly. Spread the spears out in a single layer and sprinkle with some salt.  

Bake in a 425ยบF oven until the asparagus starts to brown a bit and is tender. My children even like it if I burn it slightly because the tips become a little crunchy. That’s it; simple and delicious!


  1. Ouch. We caught the weather on easter weekend! It started with out one year old, then me, then my 3 year old, both my sisters, two of my brothers in law, then my dad.

    I didn't even get to enjoy easter breakfast! Oh well, Christ is (still) Risen!

    1. Yes, we've been stuck at home sick on the big feast days, too, and it's absolutely no fun at all. But, He is risen indeed :)