Thursday, September 01, 2011


It's been nearly 25 years since we last grew onions from onion sets.

At the top of my yard back East, I had a little garden for onions and zucchini. When summer was about done, and the tops of the onions began to wither, I'd dig them all out, dry them on a sweater rack, and then braid them into long strips. They would subsequently hang from hooks in my cellar stairway, looking lovely, nicely convenient to my kitchen.

Never having done onion sets before, Alex was sparing with how many onions she planted, but it was a pleasure to stand in the morning coolness today, letting my hands remember how to braid their dried tops together. Maybe the richness of this sight will encourage her to plant more next year.

My friend Cathy the Mad Horsewoman let us borrow her pickup truck this past week, and thus we got the winter's supply of wood in, too.

There is a strong satisfaction in putting things in order like this. Although stacking wood is hard work for my lazy shoulders, I love seeing the pieces fit together, examining each chunk to see the planes and twists, feeling the solidity of the properly done stack; greedily I still insist on being The Stacker, though I admit I'm glad I'm not the Loader or the Hauler any more. It does go much more quickly when Bernie and John and Alex are there to take up the wheelbarrowing.

In the same way, taking a pile of tangled, dried onions and making them into a neat cluster is heartening, watching the dirty outer skin slough away to reveal shades of shining brown and gold, feeling the strength of the braid holding together like magic.

Although a woodstack or an onion braid aren't great art, they are still creations of the hands that planted and hauled and braided and stacked. There is a part of me in this stockpile, in this onion braid -- part of Alex and John and Bernie, too, which makes these works so beautiful. The good will that went into the work infuses them with love, elevates them beyond just Vegetables or Wood.

I'll remember this when we taste black bean chili, or stand by the wood stove to warm up this winter.

No comments: