Monday, January 2, 2012
In Brazil, Summer break starts sometime in December and it usually goes until after the Carnival – a religious holiday that transformed into a big national event. Being so, I don’t go to town twice a day as I used to, but I still need to run my errands a few times a week. With extra time on my hands, I started to walk on a road I used to run, a little less, as my dogs bark at motorcycles and even to cows belonging to somebody else. To avoid any situation, I interrupt my walk. They are so many (6) that I won’t have enough time to strain all of them before I leave. One Sunday before Christmas another puppy joined our pack. It was said to be Pinscher Border Collie mix. To me, it is another mutt.
Every morning and every afternoon, I sit on my veranda chair to relax. The cool fresh morning air, contrasting with hot bitter coffee, I sit there enjoying myself. The dogs come to greet me, the puppy wants extra attention, and I raise my legs to a leg rest, and rest. In the evening, after the sun has set, I also sit there remembering how much my back porch has improved. It used to be the portrait of a decadence. My father’s lack of financial resources to give it a little lift. After his death, I sold many farm equipments, as I decided to lease out the land instead of working on it (I tell the reasons later). With the money dripping in, I started to fix up the house, and after three months, I have the whole house fixed up and re-painted. Some areas such as kitchen got total makeover. I had the tile floor and wall changed, bought new appliances, and above all, took all the old stuff out of the house. My mother and sister used to oil paint canvas. We had several of them stored for decades. I hang them up on walls, making the house looking cheery. The biggest effect of the fixed up was the impression that it is not a dying place any more. Yes, it had a solution for something that I thought could never happen. Sadly, it took my father’s death to make his inheritance take value. I live now in a newer, clean house. I didn’t have to make any major purchase, except for the kitchen, but lots of little ones made a difference. For instance, the drawer chests had piece of fabric replacing the original knob since my childhood. I spent a few reais to buy new knobs for the furniture to take on a new look. Besides new painting giving an impression of clean walls, which were not only dirty but crumbling, the tiles cracked or simply missing on several spots in the house, the removal of old curtain tracks (yes, it was not a modern rod) for newer rods and curtains.
I had two men coming to do the job. They are dona Rosa’s brothers. During sugar cane harvest, they have work, but between September to March, they go unemployed. Even though they are not professional carpenters, they bravely took the job. Of course, many things were far from perfect, but I enjoyed the company. My biggest concern was to have a stranger working inside the house while I was out, but it turned out that they didn’t touch anything that shouldn’t be. They must come back to fix up the fence around the house – strangely, fence was my first concern, but became the last one on the list.
Inside and outside of the house finished, including the set up of my wood fired oven coated with red mud and cow’s fresh manure, I am working on my new interest: flower garden! I have already spent some to buy two palm trees and other plants. My main interest lays in forming a tropical garden with heliconias, bromeliaces, ixoras. The plants that survived my mother’s illness (she used to have a very diverse plant material all over the garden, including a collection of orchids) were a few. Indeed they were sturdy, surviving lack of water or fertilizers over ten years. I felt sorrowful in eliminating what was there to give place to a whole new garden. I couldn’t cut down all the hibiscus, gardenia, dracaenas, rhododendron, zedoary, grass, hydrangea, ixora, bougainvillea, pata-de-vaca - a Brazilian native beautiful tree with perfumed white flower -, and many more, including a native berry tree. How could I make a beautiful landscape preserving all of those? After some researching, I decided not to eliminate them, but crowding the spot with more plants, especially tropical ones, without any rigidity of French garden, but rather more organic and natural – letting the nature do it.
Lastly, my next upcoming project is to revive my organic vegetable garden. The old spot is full of weeds, dry and rock hard. But it was once a lush garden, so it can be it again. This time, though, I am going to build a shade, as the sun is inclement most part of the year and no leafy greens can survive.
The deep sadness that I feel with the loss of my father brought up new hope for living on the farm that I had once giving up upon.