With certainly, I can’t be the only socially-distanced, questionably-sane coronavirus avoider doing some wacky things during the Great Seclusion.
Nobody’s watching. There’s no one to impress. One day I looked down and realized I had been wearing the same shirt for three days in a row. For a while, I decided not to wear deodorant, just as an anti-social experiment, but soon realized I was just annoying myself.
For decades, I have celebrated the destruction of the three-cornered leek, AKA Allium vineale.
The edible wild garlic, also known as three-cornered leek and the Latin name Allium vineale. (Heather Hacking – Contributed)
If you live in Chico, you know this flower. It bloomed last week and the week before, with cheery white blooms upon thin, bulb-like stalks.
Decidedly, they’re pretty for a minute. When I first knew the plant, I gathered the flowers and put them in vases. Soon you learn that once the weather warms, the leaves flop over into a matted straw-colored mass, killing your grass within an 18-inch radius. But that’s not the end. Before the ugly retreat, the plant reproduces bulbs underground, as well as the black, foot-ball shaped seeds within each flower. The flowers flop over, as previously mentioned, spreading the overall “territory” of this momentarily-attractive weed.
Right about now, you can spot neglected yards all around town with a tall stand of white flowers and green leaves, which turn to the aforementioned blah brown mess for the entire summer.
My friend Bonnie moved into such a yard. When she had a new beau, he worked hard to be indispensable, including touring the yard with a weed whacker. The entire neighborhood smelled like garlic for days and the dog hid indoors.
Did I mention that Allium vineale is also known as wild garlic?
Yes, you can eat it
During the Great Seclusion, I’m not rushing to the farmers market every week. My research reassured me that yes, you can eat the leek, which I have disdained these past 30 years.
I yanked a few small bulbs, diced them into tiny bits, and added some flavor to the black skillet filled with chard from LaDona’s back yard.
The taste is more pungent than the garlic chives I regularly grow in my raised beds.
A permaculture website in the United Kingdom goes a step further to recommend eating all parts of the plant. Gardener Chris Hope harvests the leaves in fall and winter, to use like chives or green onion tops. When the brown leaves flop over, she harvests the bulbs, just as we would do with regular garlic.
The garden writer has many other articles about commonly overlooked plants suitable for the dinner plate, including dandelion and rosehips. If you like what she has to say, you can buy her deck of edible plant playing cards.
For now, in this time of bitter choices, I’ll continue to experiment with three-cornered leek. I still consider them weeds in my own yard. Yet, I can find a steady supply in other people’s yards.
Along comes a wild hair
There’s not much that is glamorous about the Great Seclusion.
When I returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., in March, I decided to see what it would look like if I stopped shaving my legs. I’ve shaved the bottom half of my legs since early high school, and I was bored and curious. My vision was that the hair would be like the soft light hairs I never shave above the knee.
If things keep growing the way they are, my calves may soon look like the tops of Bilbo Baggins’ feet.
When I saw my friend Robert at the post office weeks ago, he had a scraggly beard, and said he had been growing it for no particular reason other than a private personal protest.
However, Robert looked quite handsome as a shaggy man. I predict my gams would look something like Cousin It.
I certainly hope I do not offend anyone who makes a plush choice. My online research revealed several articles about the rise of shaving legs in America, which sounds like an evil collaboration by the fashion industry and razor companies. When hemlines rose in the 1920s, razor companies began to hair-shame. According to Allure magazine, something like 75-85 percent of American women currently slathers and shave. I’m just not ready to join the other 15-25 percent.
A few weeks ago, there came a critical juncture in my experiment with hairy legs. A new guy sent me a note and asked if I wanted to go for a walk.
Hmmm. Should I shave my legs? At this point, my calves were still at the scruffy stage, and not yet half-way unruly.
I sent out a note to my girlfriends via social media to ask for advice.
A photo was attached.
“I know you own tights,” Tania said.
“It’s a new guy, shave them puppies,” my best friend from high school advised.
“Denude,” “Be true to yourself,” the opinions varied.
I brushed my hair, changed my shirt and even painted my toes. However, I’m not done with my experiment.
When we took the walk through the Chico State campus, we stopped for a socially-distanced chat on the steps at the amphitheater. I propped my legs up on the rock wall. With the reflection of light from the creek, I hoped he was mesmerized by my smile.
He was nice. Yet, he has not called for another walk.