When last we saw our intrepid porch gardener, she was escorting our very special toy friend, Scribbles, to the porch for a party to name the weird garlics. The garlics seemed unimpressed, just sitting in their pot, happily humming to themselves, as if they were totally unaware of the attention they were getting. Maybe they were. Maybe they weren’t. Maybe they didn’t care. It’s hard to tell, with garlic. Scribbles and the broccoli plants were game, though!
“You are such a joy,” I added, stroking long, soft yarn hair and touching tiny yarn fingers. ”Your child will love you as much as I do, because it just isn’t possible not to.”
“Awwwww,” she crooned. “Thanks! Let’s go spoil the broccoli and name some weird garlics.”
We went, together, out onto the front porch. Scribbles, with her forever smile, and I, with a mix of excitement and trepidation, were about to engage three very active broccoli plants in the task of naming seventeen weird garlic sprouts.
“Why do you suppose they just sit there and hum?” asked Scribbles.
“I have no clue,” I said. “Maybe Reggie can shed some of his fantastic green light on it.”
When the green guys sensed that their yarn friend was near, they started waving and wiggling like they do…like there was a breeze, except that we were Inside.
“Scribbles!” Sprite sang out in his best happy-broccoli voice. “Look, Guys, it’s Scribbles!”
There was a lot of laughter, catching up on what was new Inside, what was happening on the porch, what Scribbles saw on the talking picture box, Inside. Sprite (of course!) was fascinated with the concept of being carried from one room to the next, to take in all of the other sights and sounds of the house. Alas…he weighed too much in his pot, where Scribbles was just a small toy without roots or soil. This, of course, brought up a whole conversation about the difference between plants and toys.
“Okay,” Drake started. “You’re not a plant, you’re a toy. So…you don’t have roots or a pot, and you don’t need water or sun?”
“That’s right,” Scribbles answered. “I don’t have to have water or light. I can go into the light, or into the dark, and I can get wet, but I don’t have to. I am an ‘inanimate’ object.”
“You’re not what I would consider inanimate,” I argued. “You’re full of energy. You just don’t eat.”
“HUH?” asked Sprite. “
“Scribbles,” I explained, “is what could be considered an inanimate object. She doesn’t carry water, or nutrients. She doesn’t grow. So, if you were to look at Scribbles without really seeing her, you would think she wasn’t alive. Inanimate.”
“That’s why toys go to live with children,” Scribbles added, “or very special grown people. They can see that we’re alive.”
“I know you’re alive,” Bud said.
“Awww, thanks, Bud!” Scribbles crooned.
Did I just see the broccoli blush? Yeah, I think I did. I moved Scribbles to Bud’s planter and let her sit with him a bit, which made him so immensely happy, I think I heard him sigh.
“Guys, it’s about energy. Your energy is active. You have roots, you carry water and nutrients through your roots and stems, into your leaves and flowers. You process carbon dioxide in and oxygen and sugar out. In the end, being vegetables, you take all of the food and energy you have received throughout your growth period, and go to seed for another generation, as well as provide food for us people.”
“Scribbles,” I went on, “has karmic energy, if you would. She doesn’t have water or nutrients, doesn’t absorb sunlight or carbon. She does, however, have happiness. To see that happiness as a living force, you pretty much have to be a child.”
“Or a plant!” Sprite chimed in.
“Or a very tuned-in grown-up,” Reggie said.
“Or a very tuned-in grown-up,” I agreed, ridiculously flattered at being considered ‘very tuned-in’ by this very cool parsley.
“Are the garlics alive, too?” asked Drake. “They would be, wouldn’t they?”
“Yes, Drake, they are. They have all of the properties that you do, except that their roots are also their bodies.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well, they’re what we call a root crop. Your whole body is in the air. You absorb light through your greens, water and nutrients through your roots and you produce oxygen, carbohydrates and vapor.”
“It’s the photosynthesis thing,” Reggie drawled. “Remember, dude? The plant circle of life.”
“That’s right, it’s the photosynthesis thing,” I said. “And you have been lucky to have such a wonderful teacher out here.” Now, the garlic,” I added, “goes through that whole process, just like you. The difference is, your whole body is above the soil, where half of their bodies are beneath the soil. As you grow, you form a head of broccoli, and they form a bulb of garlic.”
“Wow,” said Drake. “So that’s why we can’t hear them? Their heads are underground?”
“Maybe that’s why they seem to hum. Maybe they’re having entire conversations down there, and we just can’t hear them clearly because they’re underground.”
“Can they hear us?”
“The only way to find that out for sure,” I offered, “would be to dig one up.”
“Oh. Maybe we’d better not go there.”
“A little too much mystery?”
“Do other plants live like that?” Scribbles asked. “In the dark?”
“Sure!” I said. “There are plenty of other root crops. Potatoes, beets, radishes and carrots are just a few that come to mind.”
“What about those big, bright flowers I saw last summer?” Reggie asked. “I remember when you harvested them, and heard you and Lola Lady talking about their…bulbs? Tubers?”
“Wow,” I said. “I’m stuck. Great question, and one for Mike, for sure. Those were the Dahlias. They have all of their flower parts, stems and leaves above the soil, just like you, and their roots below the soil, like you. But their seed…you grow Dahlias from bulbs, or tubers, like this garlic. Like garlic, they multiply from those tubers. And like the garlic, their tubers are edible for people.”
“So, when their time is up you pull them up and eat the tubers?”
“I can. I pulled them up and saved the tubers, though, to see if I could plant them again. I’ll see in the spring.”
“Are they a flower, or a vegetable?” asked Scribbles.
“They’re a flower, but one that grows from an edible tuber. Best of both worlds?”
“You’ll find out,” Sprite proclaimed with much confidence. You’ll ask that really cool Guru Guy, and he’ll know.
“He might! He sure does know a lot about plants. And, if he doesn’t know, we’ll make something up and run with it.”
“Well, next time you plant garlic, you might plant other root plants, so they won’t be lonely.”
“I don’t think they’re lonely, do you?” I wondered. “There are a lot of them in that planter to keep themselves company.”
“Okay, ” Drake said. “Maybe you can plant other kinds of root guys so they won’t be so weird.”
I had to chuckle at that. “Let’s get them named. Maybe when they’re named, they won’t seem so weird.”
“Can I start?” Sprite yelled out. And so it started. Sprite had already named “Tiny,” and now he wanted to name the next garlic in the pot, “Stinky.”
“Stinky?” Bud asked.” “Yup! Stinky! They are garlic, after all.”
“Okay,” I said, writing out the plant marker, Stinky it is! Drake, got a name?”
“How about…Amy? Let’s get some girls in there.”
“Hear, hear!” I said. “How about you, Scribs, got a name for me?”
“How about…Andy? Andy was a child who loved his toys that I saw on the talkie picture box once.”
“Ah, yes! Andy is Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s child, from Toy Story. Andy it is,” I said, and placed the marker. “Bud?”
“Okay,” Bud answered. “How about, Sunshine?”
“That’s a beautiful name,” I said, placing the marker.
“Reggie, I know you can come up with a name here.”
“Hmmmm…How about, Fuzzy?”
“Yeah. Like me. Fuzzy.”
“You bet, Friend. Fuzzy it is.” Sprite, you’re up!”
“Phineas!” he chirped. “Reggie told us all about the colorful people that live in the talkie picture box. “I’ll name mine, Phineas!”
“You got it,” I chuckled. “Reggie, you’re telling them about the TV?”
“Just sharing the world with the green guys. Those were the only people I saw in the talkie box.”
“Yeah,” Scribbles added. “I thought they were the only ones living in there. But then I saw Andy and his toys, and there were others. What were they called? Loony Tunes?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “There’s plenty going on in the TV. Phineas and Ferb are my favorites, though, so I watch them whenever they’re on, and they’re on a lot.”
“Well, in that case,” Drake started, ”I’ll call mine, Ferb. I heard he was way cool.”
“Ferb is too cool.” I placed the marker.
“Candace?” asked Bud. “Is that name right?”
“Sure is,” I said, and wrote out Candace’s marker.
“That leaves,” Scribbles said, “Perry the GARLICpus!”
That reduced us all to giggles and snorts, with subsequent names reflecting the ensuing silliness.
“Reggie, how about you?” I asked. “Got another one hiding in your dreads there?”
“In homage to Scribbles’ foliage medium,” he began, “I’ll name the next one, Freeform Foliage.”
“Ooooh, a Hippie garlic!” Sprite, my man, you’re up!”
“Ummmm…..How about, Cassandra?”
“Pretty! I like that one. Okay, Drake, how about you?”
“Summer. I was just a baby but I remember summer.”
“I like it! It’s a happy name. How about you, Scribs?”
“I know my sister’s name will be, Doodles, so I’d like to name the next after my sister. Doodles.”
“That’s so sweet! I’ll make sure you have some time with your sister before you both go off to your children.”
“Reggie, how about you?”
If a parsley could grin…..”Professor Diddlepoppin.”
Again, the room erupted in snorts and giggles. When Sprite’s turn came, he went with it.
“Horace Q. Nozzlenose!”
“Oh, Jeez,” I laughed, as I placed the marker. Drake, last one. What say you?”
He thought about it a moment. His answer was completely dead-pan.
And that, as they say, was that. The room degraded into screeches and guffaws, waving greenery, dancing yarn. It was a lovely day that ended on a happy note, with all of the weird garlic named and…as far as we could tell…happy.
A couple of months have passed since then; Bud, Drake and Sprite matured, and were harvested. Scribbles and her sister, Doodles, went on to live happily with their children. I was told that Scribbles and her child, Arianna, were romping within seconds. For Doodles, it took a little longer, because all the grown-ups in the room…my brother, Ed, sister-in-law, Liz, niece, Kristina, and her beau, Sergio, all played with Doodles briefly before they handed her to Sophia, her child and my beautiful grand-niece.
Now, that’s a whole household filled with very tuned-in grown-ups!
Reggie is still with me, still thriving,
and the garlics, still happily humming away, are growing well…at least on the surface!
Just so you know…my son, Chris, believes that the garlics are having whole conversations among themselves, but also that they hum indiscriminately, just to mess with our heads. He thinks that we can’t hear them simply because their heads are beneath the soil…and that they know that.
“It’s a conspiracy….”