So we went down to Murray Bridge yesterday to celebrate my mum’s birthday.
I did as I normally do when visiting, and went straight out to her garden to see what I could scrounge. Like all good Italians, Mum’s garden is full of vegetables. Like all weird Italians, she has chillies and basil growing between the rose bushes in her front garden.
(Question: how do you know you’re passing an Italian house? Other than the cement columns or the pristine appearance of the concrete, you will know if it’s an Italian house if there are vegetables growing in the front yard. Basil, garlic and chilli are good indicators.)
So remember my post when I told you all how my mum rings me in a flap telling me to plant the garlic? I imagined that she was in a hurry because she was in the middle of garlic-planting herself, and had to get off the phone to continue popping bulbs in the ground.
Now I’m not so sure.
Because, when picking Mum’s chilli plants bare of all fruit, I noticed two rows of garlic, about ten centimetres high. I turned to her in the dim light and demanded an explanation. I thought she had told me on Saturday to plant the garlic?
Yes, yes, I planted that Saturday, she confirmed. Liar! There’s no way garlic can grow that quickly. Mine certainly haven’t. I know the soil in Adelaide is vastly different to that in Murray Bridge, but, according to Mum, the soil where I live is vastly superior. Newton soil is great soil. Why else did so many Italians settle here?
Mine should have grown to the same extent. It has not.
So either my mum is lying, and she planted her bulbs way before telling me to plant mine (which concerns me as it means my garlic will be shit in comparison) or she’s worked some crazy witch-magic on hers to make them grow so quickly.
Here’s my theory. That hers were planted in advance. Mum waited to tell me when to plant mine, picking a time when she knows they will not flourish (probably because of the moon, I’m guessing). Why would my mother be so devilish, you ask?
Because every year, Mum brings over a plat of garlic that we hang in our shed. We’ve never had to buy garlic because it’s always on hand. I think, in her own way, Mum might be worried that if I’m self-sufficient, I’ll no longer need her. It’s probably the same reason why, when Mr Thomas tried making sugo one year, Mum said it ‘wasn’t quite right.’ Or ‘different.’ Actually, I think her words were, ‘that’s not the way we do it, but it’s all right.’ If any of you are interested, his big faux pas was to put oregano in the sugo. Big mistake.
Rest assured, Mum. We’ll still need your garlic. Especially as the ones I planted probably won’t grow, given they were planted late and all.
For all you who went out and planted their garlic on my advice, I apologise. I underestimated the number one fear of Italian mothers: to not be needed by their children.
Giorge Thomas is a writer from Adelaide, Australia. Her first poetry collection, The Vase, Reconstructed, can be downloaded here on Smashwords, or searched on your favourite ebook device.