Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 26, 2009 - Little Surprises

Jan. 26, 2009
I don’t know if this is typical of January, but sometimes it turns very hot and dry, to soon become muggy and start pouring few minutes after having watered the plants. I use a construction grade hose, which is heavy and unyielding; or I carry water in a bucket for not having taken into consideration watering logistics. At the end of my gardening day, I am covered with sweat, mud and mosquito bites. That’s everyday.
Every time I go to the vegetable garden which is in the middle of the orchard, I catch a blend of yellow medlar and orange blossoms. As the breeze comes in streams, I need to keep moving myself to find the scent. It is so faint and fleeting. It’s a second. Like life in important moments. Or memory flashes.
Every day reserves me little surprises. Two days ago as I was hoeing the weeds, I spotted one single yellow fruit under a bunch of leaves. As I got close, I looked up to find a tree full of ripe abiu (Pouteria caimito). Gelatinous, translucid, soft persimmonlike texture and taste, yet more delicate and lightly perfumed. Yesterday, I spotted a pitanga tree with its delicate berries . They resemble a miniature pumpkin in shape, but have very thin red skin and watery sweet juice. It is best to be eaten under their three and in alcoholic drinks (hard liquor, fruit and sugar). Not much taste, but a lot of perfum.
I had seen the jabuticaba tree with their trunks covered with green berries. From one day to another, several of them had gotten black and ripe. Like many other tropical native fruits, it has pits. We only eat the pulp. White, sweet, gelatinlike. It’s hard to tell why we love it so much. It may be because we appreciate it under a tree in our childhood and it only comes along in season. They are highly perishable (like pitanga), therefore, we cannot have it too far from the tree.
Acerola is another berry. Without noticing, it yielded lots of bright red fruits in little bunches. Like pitanga, it has thin skin on a cherrylike shape and size. The meat is watery, lemony with soft seeds. Children love to eat it, but I enjoy it as a juice (pulp, water and sugar, like lemonade) or mixed with starfruit. Many times a day, I run to the orchard and gather a handfull of acerola fruits. In a few minutes, I get refreshing juice.
Plants that I thoughts not to be, they are now sprouted and growing such as arugula, cilantro, sweet corn, squash and beans. I may have lost only watercress, spinach, and some cucumbers. I don’t know about hard to sprout okra. Since then, I have sowed radish, purple basil, sweet basil which are already sprouting, and carrots, calendula, purple basil, green basil, parsley, anis, cumin, marigolds, dill, hot peppers, and some medicinal herbs. I have transplanted taro, thyme and mint that we already had to a better site. Clara had sowed some popcorn on the driest and unfertile spot of all garden. It’s about to sprout.
Surprises continued with mandioc. I went down to the coffee field with a hoe on my shoulders but with no bags. I was hopeless about finding any edible root. As I started digging, a fat white root got cut underground. I carried them home full of mud against my chest.
Walking around the orchard, I noticed that most guava and pitanga leaves are covered with holes. The cashew hasn’t yield any fruit lately. Most trees are tall and getting old. But the kumquat is ripening. Small jabuticaba berries by our old house are soon good to eat. Avocado and mango are in harvest. Soon it is going to be passed like coconut water I had just a few days ago.
Maria Cristina came to tell me that very young chayottes are forming and her squash vines are growing out. Our tenants are keeping bananas and durian for me.
Every day, seeds sprout, plants grow quickly, flowers become fruit and rippen, weeds are adamant. I can’t blink. No kitting, no blinking. Things happen so quickly, it’s hard to keep a track of all the processes and metamorphosis happening around me. Kittens and puppies are opening their eyes. They have grown twice their original size in twenty days. I, myself, have changed my mind about trading usefulness for aesthetics; practicality for style. Specially, what I several times thought of being ugly, today is the most desirable thing. I used to dislike dead leaves and sticks under trees. Today, I rake them to the bare areas to make it more permeable. I can’t wait anxiously for a tankful of liquid manure or a toad in my garden.
Surprises follow one another. Some good, some others not so. It rains hard now. From stuffy day to the coolest. Water was hitting hard the east side windows and provoking roof leak. It is flooding and washing away my hard clay dug soil I mixed with worm-worked compost. I hope it is not dragging away all the little seedlings. Tomorrow I cannot hoe, but I am going to plant an extensive row of sunflower along our farm border.
Living on a farm require us to be yielding and submissive to the forces of nature. We can do only so much. The work hours don’t really feel like work. No clock to punch. Lateness is not judged by a piece of mechanical (or digital, nowadays) gadget. A minute or even hours are not measurement for being on time or late. Our time is sensed by weather, sunshine, and seasons. Or breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee, and dinner. We get more margin in our life. At the same time that there is endless work at the farm (and at home), I feel like I have not worked at all. It is as if the second has transformed into minutes, and minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks. That’s why I cannot be in a hurry. Life takes time. Its time.

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