Sowing a Cover

by Paul Eprile

Published at 2011-08-12

Slipping singly from my fingers, lettuce seeds drop like punctuation marks, organic ellipses marking the start of a new season of cultivation. Onion sets, diminutive bulbs the shape of Russian domes, stand to attention before being buried alive, later to emerge as vibrant, blue-green blades.

On a neighbouring farm, in a hot-house fired by a wood-burning stove, under the watchful eyes of the farmers' children, cheddar and purple cauliflower seedlings poke their way optimistically into sunlight. Little do I know, as I crouch under the same watery April sky, that all this activity will manifest, more than two years later, as the cover of a book.


Midsummer the same year. Some historian friends have invited us to their cottage in Muskoka. Miraculously, or so it always seems, our garden has morphed from lifeless mounds to an explosion of colours and forms. We load a basket with succulent produce, adding some of our neighbours' cauliflowers, and migrate from the Escarpment to the Shield.
When we make a salad from all this bounty, it begs to be photographed. It's truly a feast for the eyes. I take a number of close-up shots with a macro lens, focusing on a purple floret in the middle. We then devour the salad...
As it happens, one of our hosts has edited a collection of writings about Canadian food history for a university press. When she sees the salad photos she exclaims, "We should use one of these for the cover of our book!" I'm gratified, and intrigued. Not only have the pictures turned out well, preserving an otherwise transient delight, but one of the images may flourish in a wider world. And I, a budding amateur, am about to sell a photograph for the first time. 
So who said that mental and manual work can't merge? Gardening and photography are among my foremost passions, and book publishing has been my profession for the better part of two decades.
It’s fulfilling to fuse the product of one of these realms with the other two.



Photo: (c) Paul Eprile 2011