Repost: Living Up to Our Potential

A repost from October 23, 2023

It’s October in the South.  We will soon be free from days full of sunshine and comfortable temperatures.  My gardening will come to a halt…. just as soon as I finish transplanting daffodils, sifting my compost, and putting my garlic cloves in the ground.  Garlic is well-suited to fall planting.  Plenty of rain and cool temperatures will get the cloves off to a good start. The standard gardening wisdom is to plant the biggest cloves to get the best bulbs which are always found on the outermost edge of a garlic bulb.  The smaller, interior ones are eaten or used for something else.

 I can’t help but wonder every year as I plant the bigger cloves, why the smaller ones are not put in the ground. They look, smell, and taste like the bigger ones.  I’m pretty sure that garlic bulbs form from the inside out, so these smaller bulbs would be the first to develop, the first-born.  They remain small as the other bulbs form around them, squished into place by sibling pressure.

I grew up in a small town that made me feel like that, squished into place. I graduated from high school with kids I had known since kindergarten. Some of them were held in place by large extended families; some were held by events beyond their making. It was a  fly trap town.  Enlarging my circle of friends and experiences, I finally landed with people and places where I had the opportunity to “live up to my potential”. I’ve had some help along the way, as well as a good portion of luck in removing my binders and blinders.

This year I will make room in the garden for these smaller bulbs just to see how they do. Just to see if they can live up to their potential.

Perhaps all they lack is opportunity. And luck.

~Karen Smith

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