Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Night We Burned Down The Garlic...

Most holidays bring some lasting memories, but this most recent one spent at Le Rustique spanned the gamut.

For the first time ever Big Daddy's mother, known by all as GmaGlo, left her Wisconsin home and home-based progeny to spend Christmas with her Missouri-based children (Big Daddy, her eldest - and AuntS, her youngest), her grandchildren (aka the Cousins) and her great-grandchildren (aka the Bumpers).

Her presence alone would make this year memorable, but we also miraculously had #1Son and FaveDIL and their dogs for the second year in a row, a gift not always possible considering today's military life. #1Daughter, FaveSIL and their two Bumpers sacrificed their tradition of serving Christmas Eve mass at their parish church in St. Louis in order to spend two nights at LeRustique. AuntS and UncleL drove out from their St. Louis home as well.

Eleven people and four dogs in a house that comfortably sleeps eight made for some strange antics by the Foolish Family.

The first antic surfaced when UncleL started snooping around in some of the food gifts left in the living room on Christmas Eve, apparently looking for a little treat that could be snatched and quickly eaten without being missed. When AuntS appeared from around the corner, UncleL pulled her aside, pointed at a bag of cookies and whispered, "Whatever you do, don't try one of those little cookies with the icing and sprinkle things. They're HORRIBLE!" AuntS just stared in disbelief before announcing to UncleL, "Those are dog treats."

No doubt AuntS will work that incident into her spot-on stand-up comedy routine at the next bi-annual Foolish Family Follies.

I won't bore you with all the goofy stuff, but I do feel the need to vent a little about the final antic of the holiday. Bear with me, as it needs some setup.

This branch of the Foolish Family is famous for its love of FIRE. We often gather around a big flaming firepit well into the night. Big Daddy and I bought this property in part to have a place to shoot firearms. And three generations of our men will shoot off fireworks to celebrate darn near anything.

Side trip here - bear with me, it's still part of the setup. In addition to fire, we also love our garlic and always have plenty on hand.

Once our siding project was finished this fall, I decided to adopt a habit of my late mother and plant garlic on the south side of the house. I followed these directions from Organic Gardening magazine
and planted all the toes from two or three whole bulbs for my first test plot.

A week later, the garlic had already sprouted and was showing green above the ground.

And a week after that, the shoots were tall enough to cover with straw. I didn't have any straw, but I have plenty of dry hay, so I used that. (I hope I don't have a tiny hay field to contend with in May!)

End of setup side trip - back to FIRE setup for the finale...

Christmas night the Green Bay Packers played football, and with a house full of cheeseheads, we all gathered round the TV (hey, we may be "camping out" in our farm house until we can move there permanently, but DirecTV can reach you anywhere!). #1Son set off a round of fireworks from the back yard every time the Packers scored, and the rest of us ran out on the deck to watch and hoop and holler. I'm sure we could be heard through the woods, down six or seven draws and across two creeks, but we were having fun. After the fireworks following the third touchdown, AuntS and UncleL decided to trust Aaron Rogers to win the game, and they went to bed.

After the fourth touchdown, #1Son put the torch to the fireworks, and a great ball of fire took a dangerous trajectory right up to the deck, past my head and around the corner of the house. BumperT, who was filming the whole thing with his new iPhone right next to me, jumped about six feet backward and missed catching the flame on camera. No one was hurt, and we went right back into the house to watch the rest of the game.

It wasn't long before I said, "It smells like something's burning. OMG, I BET IT'S MY GARLIC!" We all ran out the front door and around the side of the house where the ball of flame had, indeed, caught the hay covering my garlic test patch on fire. Big Daddy ran to the garage and gathered rakes to pass around. Those who were wearing shoes instead of slippers stomped out embers on the ends. #1Daughter and I got the hose out of winter storage, hooked it up to the well head spigot and drowned out any residual embers. Smoke poured out of the whole garlic bed, but everything was under control.

The next day, things didn't look as bad as we thought they would,  but the hay was  blackened and a little sparse. At least half the green shoots that once stuck out through the hay were scorched down to just about ground level.

GmaGlo, who always accuses AuntS of being Henny Penny (aka Chicken Little of "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"), went back inside and knocked on the bedroom door, calmly telling AuntS and UncleL, "You guys better get up. The house might be on fire." And then we all went back to watching the football game. When the Packers made their fifth and final touchdown, we all kind of looked at each other and stayed put.

I only hope my poor garlic can rebound. But maybe some good came of the fire after all, as I'm thinking the seeds lying dormant in that hay probably won't be sprouting come spring. Oh, and one more thing - the next time the testosterone-laden members of the Foolish Family want to set off fireworks at Le Rustique, they better be prepared with rakes and hoses ahead of time.


  1. All's well that ends well, and this story is no different. Fireworks and burning hay could have burned the house down; thank goodness all of you were so quick to put it out! A Packer win, of course, made the night even better.
    Now my question: is this where roasted garlic comes from?

  2. Oh, Daisy, that's funny. I guess it's a good way to roast garlic if you want about twenty feet of it!


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