Except to be honest, I didn't really want to plant the garlic this morning. I was pretty comfortable on the inside of my house, and the baby had just fallen asleep. But the garlic was here on my kitchen counter beckoning for days, and I seem to have a compulsion for such things, so...
I took Ava and Brenna out with me, told them this could be our science for the day. It'll be fun! I said, as they reluctantly stabbed at the hard earth to loosen the soil, shoveled composted manure into a wheelbarrow, and raked it into the plot. Brenna got upset with Ava for taking her favorite pitchfork. She stomped off to pout and then just as quickly took up a cheery game with Lucas. I let them be. Ava didn't want to bury the bulbs into the soil. She had just painted her fingernails. I let her hand the garlic to me instead. I don't paint my fingernails anymore. I spoke about how deep to plant them, how far apart. That we'd cover the whole bed with straw in the end to protect them over winter. I explained that each little clove would undergo a miraculous transformation and emerge a large bulb full of it's own little cloves. I'm not sure she was truly listening, but she's too polite to tell me of her disinterest. The chickens, upon learning there was fresh turned soil around hastened to our little patch and started digging through, upsetting the bulbs I had just planted. I may have thrown a pitchfork at them. Perhaps they'll go back into the coop today.
When we were all done, Ava looked at the remaining bulbs in her hand and asked if we were just to throw them out. No silly, I replied. We'll eat those. Upon hearing this, she narrowed her eyes at me suspiciously- "If we can just buy garlic to eat, why in the world do we have to plant it?" God bless her. She had a point. And this was the question I'd been wrestling with in my mind all morning as I spent that precious hour and a half baby nap time planting garlic. And I don't really know the answer. Because I'm still unsure of why this 21st century wanna-be farmer, wanna-be blogger goes through these motions that appear so meaningless to the modern world (and even myself sometimes). How easy (and cheap) is it to buy garlic at the store? Quite.
Still, the feeling I get from doing it myself, and including my children, whether reluctantly or not, is the way I've chosen to live my life and spend my time for now. And it's good. It's not heroic, It's not life-changing, but it's good. Plus, I told her. Just wait until Spring. Those little green shoots are one of the first living things to appear in the garden, and what a thrilling feeling. We'll think back to this gorgeous November day after a cold and bitter winter and be thankful for the time we spent. Hands in the dirt, planting the garlic.