Fast forward a lot of years to Spring 2010. We are living in Umbria. We know there are asparagi growing out there in the woods because here and there we think we can see the ferny/thorny looking plants which produce the thin succulent shoots we want to harvest. The hardware stores are full of long forceps-like tools, which both snip and hold the tender spears until they make it into your bag.
I'm not sure what to do or where to look, but I am determined that this will be the spring when I stalk the wild asparagus. Fidelma, my Irish friend, calls to invite me over for an asparagus hunt -- she has been given a gathering lesson by her giardiniere. We put on boots (in case the snakes are waking up from their winter hibernation) and gloves (to protect us from thorns), sling grocery bags over our shoulders, take up our "sticks" and we're off to her 5-acre backyard.