A Patch of Daddy’s Garlic

by Annette Meyer

Quiet darkness always welcomes this lone late night walker; nothing to be fearful of here in its stillness. Stepping from sheltering walls into the outside expanse invigorates; the sleepies quickly fade from my awakening mind in this freshness of night air. Breathless amazement grows, as always happens when I consider the extensive expanse of beauty in the universe that stretches out unimaginably far beyond this planet Earth. I am in perpetual awe; these human eyes or brain can’t possibly see or comprehend all that splendor, it just goes on forever! The King is sitting up there on His throne and oversees it all! I smile because I know He always watches over me.

As I look upward, whether day or night, I always give thanks to The Creator of the heavenly hosts above, for the wisdom in giving us these created bodies that light our nights and days; moon, stars, and the sun all designed specifically to regulate our human existence while we are here.

As I gaze around the dark corners of the yard I know that out there just beyond the glowing circle of the security light, red and white apple blossoms are already popping on one fruit tree, the blueberries starting to grow tiny buds. Over there, the 5 or 6 large clumps of Daddy’s garlic, being a cooler weather crop, are poking up higher along with the tender tufts of grass in the garlic bed out front where I transplanted it last fall after rescuing it from the jaws of the brother-in-law’s hungry lawnmower.

Daddy’s Garlic has grown prolifically for a decade around one backyard tree that’s dead now and has to be cut and removed before it falls down in a windstorm. The maternal streak in me demands that tomorrow I get out the shovel and work to save that endangered patch of garlic and the accompanying flowers before they are carelessly trampled down.

We call it Daddy’s Garlic because he is a lifelong country boy and a naturalist, when they bought this property 15 year ago he and Mom made a lot of improvements, which included planting a variety of fruit trees, bulbs, bushes and plants for medicinal purposes and many that work well as companion crops. Around his larger trees he always planted wildflowers for the beauty, to encourage the birds, bees and butterflies they loved. Garlic to aid with pest control and give a steady supply adorned most every flowerbed clump as well.

Over the years, as these assorted trees and bushes have been removed due to damage or have died out, this has left random clusters of garlic and wildflowers popping up all over the yard at random times of the year without much rhyme or reason. For those of us family members who are into birds, bees, butterflies, spontaneously random natural beauty and love the flavor of garlic, it meant weaving around them with the riding mower and letting them survive. After Daddy became too fragile to do his own yardwork, others less-enamored with nature would on occasion just drive right on through and say good riddance. What a waste.

Each new growing season I work to round up all these prodigal garlic cloves that somehow are still scattered around the property as soon as they peek out of the grass. I place the clusters into permanent beds where Daddy’s garlic can be safe and happy as it replenishes itself every year. May it always grow abundantly there long after he and I are both gone!

Despite my nocturnal enjoyment on this pre-dawn winter morning, this outdoors coolness does begin to creep in and I am eventually ready to slip back between the covers and enjoy another spell of warm restful sleep.

Bright sunrays soon lighten the curtained windows, and as other sleepers begin to stir, the constant morning movements succeed in rousing me from that extra sleep. Rise and shine, it’s coffee time!

January is done now and February has come. Others in the world bundle up and shiver while I always marvel at the Wintertime warmth here in the South. A place where I can walk barefooted most of the year, to enjoy the gentle breezes and even must wipe sweat from my brow on occasion. That’s my kind of winter weather!

In the broad light of day I return outside to stand and gaze around the large yard. The timeframe to get all those unwanted brambles and scrub brush cleared from overgrown fencerows and thickets is quickly passing by. A few more weeks without serious cold to bite it all back and the growth will escalate quickly into another full-blown fruiting season. Spring comes early to Mississippi where the natural growing season slows down a bit but never truly stops.

The afternoon’s gentle rain shower has temporarily brought the outside work to a halt. We’re supposed to get heavier storms for a few hours, then clear off again. Just the natural process of watering the earth, nothing to worry about. After all the exertion this actually might be some good weather for sneaking myself a nap!

A large flock of small dark-feathered birds has suddenly invaded the nearby treetops, perhaps stopping to rest as they migrate through, all the while making a cacophony of bird noise with their chatter as they go; they collect together, swaying on the limbs well out of reach of the pack of interested cats down below.

My seat on top of a stack of topsoil bags has been a handy resting place, a makeshift lounge chair while the breaktime coffee seeps into my bloodstream and enhances what I write. After a few more minutes of rest from yardwork and because the cats are staring at me, wanting to take possession of their sunbathing perch back, I’ll get out of their way, and get to the inside chores. Those lunch dishes don’t wash themselves, so I foresee a sink of hot soapy water in my near future!

As I wash dishes I can gaze out the kitchen window and see the front yard trellis, almost invisible underneath Mom’s thick rose bushes. In front of them there’s Daddy’s Garlic, a fresh crop eagerly sprouting upwards in their new home.

I smile to think that there’s quite likely to be a perpetual patch of Daddys’ Garlic growing forever in the farthest corners of my mind!

Have yourself a blessed week!

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