12 cloves. Yesterday, I risked twelve whole cloves of garlic, burying them in the neglected strip of marginal soil at the foot of our staircase. Oh, I’m sure there are several legitimate protests running through your mind right now.
“But I’m wearing a winter coat!”
“Doesn’t she live in Chicago?”
“Can garlic grow through three feet of snow?”
“I’m too hungry/bored/sleepy/stabby to plant anything right now!”
All legitimate concerns, misfits. But it’s possible.
As I was up late the other night scanning the Internet for dwarf apple tree porn, I came across a quick article about how planting garlic on the shortest day of the year is good luck. Horticulturalists pretty much recommend going with shortly after your first frost. I made neither, seeing as how I’m pretty sure my little scrap of earth will be under a considerable amount of snow by December 21st, and I was too late to plant it right after the first frost.
Meh–gardening is about managing chaos, not controlling nature, and rules were meant to be broken, right?
So you just plop the cloves, right side up, in their new little holes, four inches apart, 1 inch deep, cover ’em up, and be all, “See ya’ in the Spring, misfits!” They hibernate all winter long and fly their teeny, tiny, little green freak flags after the ground thaws.
Freak flags: does your garlic have them?
A few months ago, I don’t know that I would’ve risked even one, shriveled, half-dead clove of garlic on our earth. The Boy and I moved here at a tenuous time, not entirely sure how things would pan out for us in our new situation, not willing to put down any roots–literal or figurative–that we couldn’t take with us.
But you know what? Nothing’s ever fixed, guaranteed, safe secure. And life just isn’t the same without risk. Because with risk comes hope.
The BMG can risk a little bit of now in hopes for a little more later.
What the BMG cannot do, is be fucking patient for once.
After I got home from a fall walk today I opened our gate and paused before my new garlic patch, looking for signs that something transformational had happened there. The dirt still looked barren. Perhaps a little darker from having been recently worked? The leaves I’d piled there in a childish attempt to hide my expectations still lay on top, mostly undisturbed. I thought about the generous bulbs I might pull from that spot a few seasons from now. I thought about the twelve dried up cloves I might find if that earth fails to produce anything at all. But in either case, that spot is going to be a gentle reminder that sometimes trust is rewarded with what we wanted, and sometimes it’s rewarded with a lesson. But trust is always rewarded somehow, isn’t it?
At least, I think it makes us better to believe that it is.
Before I turned to go inside, I squinted my hardest at my little garlic plot, trying one more time to see the change. And this time, I did. It didn’t look fruitful. It didn’t look productive, or green, or rich, or bountiful, or any of that.
But you know? It did look kinda hopeful.