Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Of Cabbages, Experiences and the Sauerkraut of Life

With the forecast hinting at the season's first freeze I spent the remainder of the afternoon attending to some garden cleanup -- rolling and labeling the rest of the drip tapes for next year's reuse, and gathering.  There was a bit of dinner time hidden agenda -- the collards and kale, along with some of the peppers would go nicely with the sausage in the freezer and the leftover cornbread for a chilly night's repast -- but mostly I was in scavenger mode.  The remaining tomatoes and peppers weren't likely to tolerate the freeze.  So, with basket, snippers and knife in hand I made my way through the rows.  The beans and tomatillos and squashes were already gone; the lettuces had long since expired, and the braising greens could tolerate the change in temperature.  All in all it wouldn't take too long to pluck whatever other remnants remained.

And then I noticed the cabbage.  To be honest I had all but forgotten them.  Slow, unimpressive, I have longed for those leafy sprouts to mature but had largely given up.  They seemed to be stalled and waning.  And then there they were -- four of useable size with several more lagging behind. 

Cabbages are curious growths.  A member of the brassica family, the plant begins with a thin taproot and eventually begins to leaf.  And leaf.  In fact, the head that is its offspring is literally the compaction of layer after layer of leaves and time, resulting in a versatile mass of culinary possibilities. 

Which makes me think of memories and experiences and learnings along the way -- the slow and often unnoticed leafing and compaction of life-leaves that result in a similarly useful density. 

I suppose not everybody affirms the usefulness of sauerkraut, but while I rather think a brat is naked without it, there is more to a cabbage than that.  And who knows what gloriously pungent concoctions might come from all these learnings and practices and disappointments and triumphs?  One head at a time.