Planting Vampire’s Bane
And then it snows a foot. Snow, unspeakably early, piled on the trees which still on Oct. 31 have not yet lost their colored leaves, unspeakably late, a pointless doubling of natural beauties which are normally sequential. Like smothering a dinner of roasted vegetables with ice cream. It addles me.
But just before the snow I did what had to be done to restore some slight sense of order in the world. I planted vampire’s bane, some 300 of those pungent flame-shaped cloves of the world’s truly indespensable food, the stinking rose, the aphrodisiac which draws lovers who have eaten it to each other because no one else will have them.
Garlic. Planted when the garden is all but dead save for the kales and the vitamin greens. Garlic. Poked into holes in the cold dark soil like the Romanian peasants stuffing the orifices of the dead to ward against occupation by vampires.
I stuff the holes in my garlic beds to push back against the hopelessness that this season always seeds in me. Summer was a hallucination. From now until I die all will be dark and cold.
But no. With blind faith I have planted garlic, the first crop of the new year. With this act I begin growing food again, and such food it is, this bulb, the garlic that banishes sadness and brightens the taste of the dullest meal. Garlic that slumbers in the hard frozen soil through the winter and then thrusts up through the late spring snow its green shoots.
Garlic. The god who makes life worth living. And April worth waiting for.
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