October 4, 2015

Growing Garlic

I have harvested and dried the garlic from my garden, and it is ready to add flavor to soups and stews well into the winter.

As I dug it up in the late summer warmth, that work felt like a parable – a parable of resurrection and of my life these past 18 months.

I planted the garlic last fall, and after the first frost, I will plant next year’s crop.  The garlic I harvested was buried in the earth and soon covered with deep now.  All through the long cold snowy winter (and it was very long and very cold and very snowy…) the tiny bulbs were hidden and silent, but still with growth in them. 

That time of stress is essential to the later growth.  In the spring, the garlic comes up and puts out scapes, curly stems with garlic flowers on them.  The scapes need to be cut back, because if all the energy of the bulb goes into the flower, the roots do not grow as large and strong.

I have not written here for a long time.  It has been my own time of silence and maybe, too, of growth. And it has been a time of cutting back – literally and figuratively.  I’ve had some surgery, some months of chemo and radiation, the kind of stress that brings healing and new growth. 

Like the garlic ready for the stew, like the one hoping to continue contributing some flavor to the stew of daily life, it is all about practicing resurrection, which is preceded by being willing to die a little, be hidden and silent, endure some stress.

One of my very favorite poems has these lines:

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
Practice resurrection.
(from Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front from The Country of Marriage, 
copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.)

And that is what I am doing:  practicing resurrection.  Me and the garlic!

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