“See garlic is a pretext for waiting. It has no other way but the long wash of time to extract the sulfur components from the soil and to distill them into its distinctive potion: all garlic questions ultimately may have to do with the passage of time, and therefore with mortality, and therefore with vampires, whatever they may be.” – Stanley Crawford, A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm
Fall is a reflective time in a garden. There is a heaviness to the season, an understanding of the progression of time. Gardens always expose us in some sense to the passage of the seasons as we trace our hands over an ever-changing landscape. Crunching through frost-layered soils in winter, watching vibrant green shoots emerge in spring, relishing the smells of summer tomatoes and basil. Autumn, more than any other season, makes me realize the full impact of time. Maybe it’s the full drama of the changing leaves, an explosion of color that happens gradually and then all at once. While chloroplasts are broken down for winter, the true pigment of the leaves is finally exposed. For a few shimmering weeks, we are witness to the leaves’ full color. In this spectacle of autumn, in this realization of the truest form of themselves, they finally drop.
I sit in awe as I look out at the garden on this October morning, watching leaves gracefully fall that I feel I witnessed only just emerging. I wonder what it would feel like to shed my own skin for the season, to use winter as a time for inward healing, allowing my roots to soak up the wash of rain. Spring would bring new growth as I take on fresh green leaves and shower the world with blossoms. I would remain rooted, growing patiently through summer, knowing that come fall, I would show my true colors, lighting up the world with my amber oranges and yellows.
Knowing that I can’t be a tree, I go and plant garlic. I follow the footsteps of generations of farmers and carry the tradition of seed to the soil into the present and future. Under cloudy October skies, I nestle each garlic bulb into the soil, sending them out into the world and relishing the harvest come July. In this motion of hand to seed, I stir life with a flick of a hand, even as all around me, the world goes dormant.
Garlic is a gift of time. We wait for most of the year to receive the gift of the harvest. To bring the sulfurous bulbs to the surface on a dry July day under bright blue skies, a long way away from this cool fall day. Garlic is a teacher of patience. If we are patient, we are rewarded with succulent and medicinal bulbs. In an age of instant gratification, where screens give us feedback in measurements of seconds, fall is a reminder to slow down. There is a stillness to the air as the birds move south for the winter, and the garden begins to fade into dormancy. I stand still in the midst of it all, and when the light hits me right, I swear my shadow resembles a tree.
Farm to Table
This month, our tasting room menu features the following items from the Brooks Estate Garden: kale, squash, rosemary, peppers, garden greens, tomatoes, and garlic.