Every October as the season turns, the days shorten, and the temperatures cool, I plant garlic bulbs.
I slide them four to six inches under the soil and then cover them with a generous layer of straw. Nestled this way, the bulbs will overwinter. Somehow by late February when we wonder if it will ever be green again, the garlic sends up leaves, out of the straw, a harbinger of the new life to come. The garlic is often the first green thing in my yard and makes me feel like a consummate gardener! It provides hope that a new season is upon us and reminds that Earth is capable of miracles. I need do nothing with the garlic except admire the growing green leaves, sometimes reaching three feet tall, until late June when the first three layers of leaves start to brown. When three leaves have withered, the bulbs below are ready for harvesting. Where I put one clove in eight months ago, a large bulb takes its place. Once they cure, I save the biggest, healthiest ones so that the following October I can pull them apart and put them back in the ground for another round of hope.
- Do you have a regular activity or practice that provides you with a sense of hope and wonder
- What don’t you fully understand but know that the Earth or God will provide?
- How does the complexity of the Earth’s ecosystems help us appreciate our small part in a much larger reality?
Kathleen teaches at the intersection of history, globalization and sustainability, seeking a comprehensive and broad understanding of our past in order to help solve our current environmental, economic and cultural challenges.
Kathleen R. Smythe teaches history and sustainability and directs the Land, Farming and Community degree at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.