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old Garlic

By May 28, 2020June 4th, 2020No Comments

There’s a song that’s slowly building in our house. It began with fingers strumming up, down, for days. Then came chords: A Major, A Major, D Major, D Major… There’s something there, but I can’t place it.

Five years ago I took a workshop with the photographer and writer Kate Ingis. It was a magical few days, where our collective skills were pushed in the most gentle ways. We took self portraits. We explored the woods dressed in costumes. We listened to live music under the stars. We slept beside a bubbling brook. I came home with a camera full of photographs that I would have not taken on my own.

Like the photo of wild blueberries, growing in the grass under my knees.

The assignment was to find a spot, sit down, and using Kate’s macro lens, photograph what we saw within reach. The lens was like a microscope. I could see the grooves in my worn denim, the fingerprints on the tips of my fingers. I picked a handful of wild blueberries and placed them on my leg. The blue of a blueberry was instead a dusty indigo. A star framed the stem. Tiny blossoms surrounded the berry, blossoms I stepped on just minutes before.

I remember this shot today as I stand in our little backyard. Like many of you, I’ve had more time to stand and stare at things. The chipped paint on the kitchen cabinets. The dust on the door frame. Tulips growing through the cage of sticks that was last summer’s hydrangea. Soft pink cherry blossoms freshly unfurled.

I head back inside, pulling at a dandelion that wasn’t there that morning. I reach for a cutting board and smash a clove of garlic with the flat of my knife. And just like the garden, the garlic is growing too. It’s the end of last year’s crop, the best the market has to offer at this point in the year. The germ inside is fat, trying its best to bust out of its skin and grow into a plant inside the darkness of the cupboard.

A French cooking instructor once told me to always cut the germ out with the tip of your knife. “C’est pas bon pour le dégustation” – it’s not good for tasting. I’ll add it’s “pas bon pour la digestion”.

So, I cut out the centre and use the surrounds. Eventually the gentler summer crop will arrive.

I don’t know what I’m making yet, but my mother always says to start dinner by gently warming garlic in a pan with olive oil. Those two ingredients are a good start.

As the garlic fills the air I hear that strumming again, but this time, there are words. My husband is learning how to play the guitar online. A Major, A Major, D Major, D Major… two chords are coming together, slowly, to make a song. Don’t worry, about a thing, every little thing, is gonna be alright.

Old Garlic