To the editor:
I like rhubarb. Evidently, so did the old New Englanders. About the time we bought this old farm—it was built in the 1870s—I ran across an article talking about the days back when Easterners were headed to the mid-west or farther to homestead. According to the writer, every emigrant family took with them, a slip of lilac and a root of rhubarb, Well, I thought, where is that all important rhubarb on this old farm? I looked and looked and finally found a few tiny sprigs out in the woods. It was overgrown and stunted, struggling to survive. I carefully dug it up and planted it in my newly dug vegetable garden.
Years went by, and the root prospered. Then it began its traveling. First, I became friendly with a fellow who built a new house down the road. It didn't have any rhubarb so a few of the roots from my patch went there. That wasn't very far.
A few more years went by. Our youngest boy moved to Idaho, where there was also no rhubarb. On one of his visits, he packed up a few roots and now there's a colony in Sun Valley. That's a lot farther, but there was much more to come.
Some more years went by. We made friends with another family that moved into town. They, too, loved rhubarb. Enough so that they used it to entertain a relative visiting from Italy. She had never heard of the stuff but fell in love with it at once. She wanted to take some back with her, but the prospect of going through the bureaucratic procedure of acquiring permits to import a foreign plant were daunting. The solution was simple. Before she left, she stuffed some roots into her bra, boarded the plane, and flew home to Italy. And there, to this day, it grows, having traveled thousands of miles.
And what's next? They're talking about going to Mars. Hey, there's no rhubarb there. Who knows?