I wrote this haiku a couple of years ago in the last week of June:
Garlic gath’rers pass,
Leaving the scent in the air;
It’s that time again.
It’s that time–again; but three weeks later than normal (due aux mauvais temps [bad weather] in May and June).
The question now hanging in the air (with the whiff of garlic!): will there be enough of the lovely stuff ready for the Garlic Festival–always held in our village on the first Friday of August?
Alice Frezouls, our neighbour, called in at noon yesterday with bunch just lifted–a gift! She was hot from the field and called the work travail bagnard, which translates as hard labour–in the sense of a prison sentence. (What must it have been like before the machine above took over the lifting?!)
She was making light of it though.
The fields are still unseasonably sodden and the clumps of garlic are coated with earth–adding irksomeness to the lifting and cleaning process.
The garlic must spend weeks drying out before being hand cleaned, plaited and sold.
This was done in barns open to the heat of summer air passing naturally through them.
Now with garlic production increased, noisy drying machines–great ventilator fans–are used more and more.
The first year this happened we complained to Pierre-Louis–our young farming neighbor. He came over and agreed that we were in a noise corridor where the sound of his industrial dryer was penible–difficult. He improvised with stacks of hay bales to blanket the racket and we lived with it.
He has refined the process and for the next month we are resigned to eating dinner on the terrace to the accompaniment of a low, single-noted wind machine–not a woodwind quartet–that drifts in and out of our consciousness.
The reports that the Garlic Festival risks being like Hamlet–but without the Prince–are exaggerated, or so we have been reassured.
If they’re desperate I’ll offer mine!