Changing Scapes

Just for the record, I do not feel as though I’ve had a summer. Is early August too late to start? For many reasons, big and small, this feels like the shortest, most harried summer on record. Now, suddenly, it’s August. And soon I will embark on this next important phase of my life. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not complaining. It’s all good, what lies ahead. And I’m thrilled to be doing it. But right now, I just want a little rest and a little peace and a few free moments to watch the night hawks circling overhead (they’re very graceful).

So tomorrow morning, waaaaaaay too early, we’re catching a flight and we’re taking a short trip to see family for a few days. We’re going to a baseball game and a pool party, and we’re going to have ourselves a little bit of summer. (If you’re a friend back home, wondering why I haven’t told you—this is a spur-of-the-moment journey. We haven’t told anyone outside of family and friends who water our plants.)

And then next week, I hope, I will return refreshed, ready to face a few more deadlines before I pack and gather my conscience for the big shift.

It’s life—it’s always on the move. Just like culture, just like food. Everything always grows, changes, evolves. Nothing ever stays the same (first lesson in Buddhism, first lesson in anthropology—and first lesson in the kitchen, I think). If ever I need reminding of these facts, all I need do is look at my garden or the nearest farmers market. The world is constantly in flux.

Which, finally, leads me to the picture above. Not too long ago I bought a bunch of fresh, sweet garlic from our summer market. Along with the cloves came a bundle of scapes—those beautiful long flower stems that some people say resemble an octopus (true). They have many uses in the kitchen, and believe me—I had plans. But the scapes escaped me.

They sat on our counter, and they evolved. Life moved on, and so did they.

Their flower heads grew and burst, putting forth masses of little bulbils—this plant’s answer to seeds. At first I was slightly annoyed with myself for not having eaten the scapes sooner. But then I examined them closely and realized they had become works of art.

And now, as I think about those scapes in my frazzled state of mind, I realize they had something to say. They were trying to tell me: just sit back for a while, and let life take care of itself. It always does.

10 thoughts on “Changing Scapes

  1. I love the garlic pictures. I grew garlic one time and the shapes of the bloom stakes, now I know them as scapes, really intrigued me. Some bending others curling.
    your pictures re-evoked the time I grew garlic.

  2. Thank you both, but I can’t take credit for the photos. That’s my husband’s department. One of these years, I hope, I will have a full summer in the garden, and I will attempt to grow garlic.

  3. Sue, the scapes did continue on their life’s journey- but sauteed in a little olive oil would have been great!!

  4. It’s definitely important to take time for yourself. Especially when you are always traveling. I deeply admire your writing, photography, and sense of adventure.

  5. I was first amazed by the reproduction method of the onion, now I am just as amazed by the multitude of little garlic clove sprouts contained within the bulge… so cool. Also love eating garlic scapes stir fried w/ a bit of meat, Chinese style. They are super common in central/ northern China. Garlic is ridiculously plentiful there, and we once tried to buy 10 or so heads of garlic at the local supermarket and they wouldn’t allow it. They said we were required to buy at least 1 KG of garlic, or else they couldn’t charge us for it because the price was so cheap. If I recall correctly, it was .2 RMB per KG. (1.5 cents per LB)… Needless to say we ate a bunch of garlic while over there.

  6. Thanks, Justin. You’re right: garlic is the “in” thing. I love it.

    Food Jihadist, I’m doing my best to create more personal time. Thank you.

    Brendan, I love that story! How funny. We might be healthier people if we all bought (and ate) garlic by the kilo.

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