A boomer’s passion for the news business and garlic

After a year of high tension thanks to the twin plagues of presidential politics and the pandemic, BoomerCafé wants to do its part to tone things down, which is why for a few weeks, in addition to fresh stories, we’re going to run some of our “best of” pieces from the past, stories that will remind you that Yes, Virginia, there was some tranquility before the tension.

Today’s story, in a way, is a tribute to the indefatigable interviewer Larry King, who just died, because it was written the middle of last year by King’s longtime pal Pat Piper, who produced his famous radio show. Once Pat retired, his life morphed from producing radio to producing a new passion: garlic.

It dawned on me— while pulling the last of the seemingly hundred acres of weeds in my 20’ X 20’ garden plot— that there’s a lesson here. In fact, three lessons (if I were smarter, there’s probably more than that, but ya gotta start at the beginning).

First, we should weed our lives just as we weed a garden.

Weeds get in the way of growth. Weeds appear without an invitation and will happily take over if given the chance, or in this case, the space. Those mental weeds I’m talking about are negative comments from others, or negative feelings we hold inside, or just not looking at the Big Picture everyone keeps talking about but doesn’t always think about. Each of us has the opportunity to pull a weed.

Pat’s garlic plot.

Second, nature operates on its own schedule.

In other words, it’s not about you. I plant garlic in October and harvest it in late June. Yeah, I know, plants don’t grow in the winter. But garlic does things differently and has been doing so since Cro-Magnon man planted it 40,000 years ago (he was trying to improve a pesto recipe, I think). When it’s January with a foot of snow, the green sprouts can pop up, offering optimism in the darkness. Nature knows. Speaking of which…

Garlic growing in winter.

… Find balance between too much and not enough.

While nature is running the show, this past summer in my neck of the woods was filled with too much rain and too many weeks of temperatures above 90 degrees. The storms and heat messed with everything that grew. Roadside stand fruit and vegetables owners say they had no tomatoes this year because of the rain and heat.

Pat Piper… news guy and garlic guru.

We can water plants as needed, and we can build raised beds to allow runoff during downpours because that Big Picture needs our involvement. Still, despite the work of medicine, science, nutrition, or a sprinkler, life makes the decision about when to leave. Prior to that moment, it’s up to each of us to determine what is, and isn’t, a weed.

Between the pandemic and the economy and the state of politics, maybe we all need to learn a few more lessons from garlic.

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