At the Institute of Reading Development (my summer teaching gig), we talk about how kids need to acquire absorption, that is the ability to be so immersed in the world of the book that it's as if the child becomes the character that they are reading about, and there's no conscious thought of "I'm reading this." If a kid can become absorbed, then they will most likely become a lifelong reader. Absorption is that lightening strike experience that turns a reluctant reader into bibliophile. Absorption gives literature its brilliant power. As for myself, I can't remember a time that I didn't ever love books. I do, however, remember the first time that I was susceptible to the suggests in a book.
But perhaps at first I aimed for emulation rather than absorption. When I was 4 or 5 years old, certainly before I was reading on my own, I wanted to do everything possible in my play world to act and dress like the characters from my picture books. The name of the book and character that I first emulated eludes me, probably because I felt mislead by the character in the end. But I do remember that the main character had a doll. At one point in the story, she mistreats the doll. A mud puddle was involved. In a stunt of pure immitation, I dressed my best doll up (in purple gingham) and then dashed her directly into a giant mud puddle. The stains didn't wash out later when I tired, and I felt bitterly betrayed by the character because in the book the mud stains on her dolly's dress washed out, and she evades punishment. I did not.
This is just a really long way to say that Barbara Kingsolver is the reason why I plant garlic. I may be older and wiser now, but I still want emulate those that I admire when I read them on the page. When people talk about life-changing books, they usually say something along the lines of: it was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. There is serendipity if life's journey coincides perfectly with the ideas, knowledge, and creativity contained on the pages of the right book. Barabara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was a life-changing book, but serendipitous it was not. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle at completely the wrong time.
|2010 Garlic Harvest|
Toward the end of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Kingsolver and her husband are about to embark on a trip to Italy in just a few hours, but rather than packing, she contemplates planting garlic bulbs before they leave. I admire this impulse to tie up loose ends before traveling. (As my itinerant reading teacher schedule has made for strange mid-week "weekends" in which I spend 12 or 14 hours in the kitchen canning veggies and performing other such produce triage as the garden's harvest threatens to over-ripen and expire.)
|Garlic Braid: No vampires here!|
So I found myself imitating Barbara Kingsolver. That late September when I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I realized I could plant garlic to harvest the next summer. So that's why garlic was the first thing I ever planted in Ohio.