On being as garlic

4 Jan

“Donkey: Ogres are like onions. We have a lot of layers.”  — Shrek

I have been absent of writing as winter has set in.

It is not for lack of ideas wringing my brain. Just that they needed to rest.

The onion-layers bit is not only a metaphor from Shrek, but a metaphor used in the study of Kaballah: an ancient Jewish mysticism still used as a spiritual practice by many people today. Jewish mysticism and moon-lore would also tell you that near the beginning of December, when the Jewish Calendar month of Kislev began at the new moon, so began the month of dreams.

To mark the new moon, we at Kayam Farm took on the onion’s culinary cousin and completed our planting of garlic and metaphors. Garlic, like daffodils, is a bulb. You make a hole in fertile soil, and push in the piece of garlic you might otherwise have eaten an inch deep — before the ground’s too hard with frost. Then the garlic waits. And you wait. And when the moment is right in late spring, your efforts will come to fruition when a green shoot pops out of the ground, and that one piece magically or miraculously or naturally, as science would have us understand it, has turned to a head of 10-12 pieces.

Winter work on a farm is like this garlic and it can feel like work of the spirit or the soul. It’s about as close as I get to such things in asking myself: what is it that I must plant now, and allow it to sit, hibernate, and rest in order to come to fruition in the spring?

And what will you?
freshly harvested garlic


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