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Garlic

February 1, 2010

My garden gets little sun. Only in the afternoon does the sun heave around to the west and cast a few barely warm photons over the garden steps: the small raised beds sleep the winter away in frigid shade. The recent snows persevered on the beds long after the thaw: over breakfasts, I could glance through the windows to see a thick blanket covering the recently planted garlic.

Now stripped of their covers, I finally made the effort to put on some shoes, go outside and look. From the damp, papery skins have burst forth firm, deep green spears, a statement of intent for the growing season ahead. 

Although it is still early, I cannot help but close my eyes and dream of these spears shooting skywards and exploding like a firework into a vivid purple flower head. With any luck, these cold days will ensure fat bulbs come June: fat bulbs to be laid out to dry on rusting steel steps behind the kitchen; to be tied up in a string and hung where the remains of last year’s shallots are; to be roasted whole until the little nuggets of sticky garlic caramel can be popped out with the back of a knife and smeared over bruschetta, eating in the garden under the full heat of the midsummer sun. 

They may only be the smallest signs of growth, but they are the start of a process: the first inches of green in the new season. I can’t help but dream of the good things that will be happening by the time the garlic explodes into flower: fresh peppery salads; new potatoes; French beans weaving up the garden steps; lush, acrid basil; the crisp snap of a mange tout.

Winter, I do love you, but I’m ready to let go now – I’ve moved on and I need the gentle warmth and unfurling excitement of spring.

It’s not you, it’s me.

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