minced garlic and seven bags of leaves

It takes a village, and when my kids were little ours was sometimes hard to find. So when he knocked at my door looking for ways to earn money for a school trip, the village in me said yes. Here are the leaves. And there is the rake.

Gosh, he worked on/off all day his mother said when I ran next door to pay him. I said I was happy to come home from work and see what a nice job he did. Leaf raking was exacting and never-ending. One more leaf was always falling.

Yes, well- his mother said and we both stepped out to sorta take in the view of my front yard . . . and so funny . . . a few leaves swirled here and there. It’s impossible to get them all, and there are seven large trash bags of leaves on the curb. And sure, his mom and I pretended to be all stern: Oh, get that leaf right there. Quick before it blows away.Β But we are soft and knowing. Warm and round from the goodness her son brings back to our neighborhood with his earnest raking ways.

And then my mother called when I got back inside my house. We traded recipes and updated each other about our day. She had a Peach Chicken recipe for Cooking Guy next time I saw him. You could say the two of them come from the same kitchen. They are each other’s village when it comes to food.

“He threw away his spices,” I told her.

And this, with our waste-not upbringing, was impossible to fathom. I understand this, but so caught up in the reduced number of leaves in my front yard, I forgot to factor this in. I shouldn’t have told my mom. In a frustrated moment of taking care of his elderly-restricted-from-the-kitchen mother who has recently taken to cooking spaghetti twice a week with unadulterated sauce, he found relief in pitching out his spices. There was no way he could break her heart by telling her how bad her tomato sauce tasted. It was easier to toss that minced garlic out.

“Oh, hold on. What? You mean like his oregano and bay leaves?” Mom asked. There was no way her favorite Cooking Guy could be that rash. That caught up in a moment. But no. I mean, but yes. There was muy way for Cooking Guy to be that rash. And it was cleansing for him. And funny-liberating. He and I had both laughed when he’d told me what he’d done. Sometimes living has so few options. We don’t get things the way we’d like.

I knew my mom would understand that, but before I could say more there was a knock at my front door–my extra trash bags had been returned. A good time to change the subject. I told Mom about Raker Kid and how he had even raked leaves from under Pokey, the stalled-out pickup in my side yard. If we love anything, we love a story about hard work.

But, no. It seemed that salvaged spices trumped raked leaves.

“You don’t mean he threw out his rubbed sage,” she interrupted just as I was reaching the part about seven bags of leaves. “Tell him that stuff keeps forever. It’s not too late to get it back.”

 

 

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About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit and YB Poetry Journal. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

12 responses to “minced garlic and seven bags of leaves

  1. Kathleen Kirk

    I got so wrapped up in this!! Caring about the leaves and the spices and, of course, the people.

    • redmitten

      kathleen, oh i wondered if the caring would come through this. and there are more spice stories coming. my mom is still asking after them…

  2. kmerrifi

    Raked leaves and old spices….mmmm, a heady brew for the brain! πŸ™‚

  3. kmerrifi

    Mmm. Raked leaves and old spices….a heady brew for the brain!

  4. funny how we get caught up…much like those few swirling leaves. reminds me to look through some of my ancient spices in the cupboard…leaves have been raked from last fall at least!

  5. wuffda

    I admire leaf-raking boy, reminds me of my misadventures doing same…but throwing out spices? Absolutely scandalous!

  6. Suburban Soliloquist

    “[…]the village in me said yes.”

    Oh my, I loved this! My mother would have the same response. I have five brothers and sisters and my father was an English teacher. Mom stayed at home. Dinners were recycled with a can of this and a can of that, it seems, for two weeks out. Way past the expiration date, I’m sure. Certainly, until the point where the original dinner was unrecognizable.

    Funny to read this now, too, because I recently emptied my lazy sue of several jars of spices and other items. That hurt. But they do have expiration dates! Some of them, anyway. I found tarragon w/an expiration date of 2005. The other day, I ate a ten year old cracker (which triggered the cabinet purge). Gawd I thought I’d be sick for sure (have my own purge) but I was fine! Maybe moms are right–some things last forever. Still, I’m not taking any chances. πŸ˜‰

    • redmitten

      same here! leftovers are and were serious business at my mom’s house. but me and my spices? i’ve moved a few times these past 8 years and the same group of friends help me move. now we all laugh about checking the expiration dates before packing up my kitchen. somehow my packers have never questioned what is in my cupboard and so we’ve packed and moved items that expired years ago. now we keep a token box of lemon jell-o pudding with an expiration date of something like 2003 because it has survived every move. can’t toss it out now.

  7. Suburban Soliloquist

    “[…]the village in me said yes.”

    Oh my, I loved this! My mother would have the same response. I have five brothers and sisters and my father was an English teacher. Mom stayed at home. Dinners were recycled with a can of this and a can of that, it seems, for two weeks out. Way past the expiration date, I’m sure. Certainly, until the point where the original dinner was unrecognizable.

    Funny to read this now, too, because I recently emptied my lazy sue of several jars of spices and other items. That hurt. But they do have expiration dates! Some of them, anyway. I found tarragon w/an expiration date of 2005. The other day, I ate a ten year old cracker (which triggered the cabinet purge). Gawd I thought I’d be sick for sure (have my own purge), but I was fine! Maybe moms are right–some things last forever. Still, I’m not taking any chances. πŸ˜‰

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