The first morning we went out to the farm at which my ant free produce might grow, we found a huge field had been raked over by somebody else’s tractor, since the farm’s vehicle needed much more work. It was a vast field. I tried to explain once again that I had wanted an area more like a large rug, not something broad enough to play soccer. I once again pointed out the area: just between these four palm trees, por favor. Esto es suficiente. Fine. Leaving offerings to take care of the tractor, the diesel for the tractor, pump repair, and several other necessities, we left with the understanding that by Sabado all would be ready. Three days! Excitement was building, not only in me, the farmer (small time though I might be), but also in Sweet Heart, who has never farmed and knows little about it, preferring to grow music from his golden trumpeta. Saturday morning, at dawn, we were at the farmer’s gate: not only us, but other helpers who had volunteered and joined us along the way. However, first of all, there was an enormous dog fight occurring at the gate, which right away felt like an ill omen. Half a dozen dogs, snarling, growling, barking, biting. So early in the morning it seemed surreal. However, courage. But then, behind them, we began to see las vacas, cows, many of them, loose in the farmer’s corn field. And to make matters worse, they were ankle deep in water.
The farmer, perhaps I should call him Overwhelmed Heart, came up to the car to tell us what we were seeing: his neighbors’ cows had broken his fence, come into his corn field, were eating his corn. Que lastima! More than that, they had managed to break his water pipes, which we could see were made out of fragile white plastic, and the result was a flooded field. Oy vey! My tiny, rug-like patch of land, surrounded by the soccer field, was flooded and would not be dry enough to plant anything for at least three days! Could we come back then? Si.
Wise Heart, with his typical compassion, opted to check on the situation for us, to prevent our tumbling out of our cozy beds to no purpose. Three days later we asked for a report. Nothing’s moving, he said. Neither the cows, now the water level. Besides, Overwhelmed Heart says another field is too much work. Considering the overwhelm I had received on viewing the cleared soccer field, I agreed with him.
What is the lesson? Today I am feeling regretful that my Spanish, after all these years of study and learning, is still so poor I can’t sufficiently emphasize the difference between rug-size and soccer field size. And I wonder, as well, if my approach was somehow wrong. Longer meditation might help me here.
One lesson seems to be to recommit to my own yard and garden, and to take my stand here. Wise Heart and I immediately decided to tear out the humungous stand of red ginger and palmas that was about to eat the side yard, and to plant collards, okra, kale and garlic there. With two other young men he went at it with a will, and made a circular bed ten feet across. The roots of the palmas are still there, however, and will be hard to remove.
I woke this morning feeling reckless: I will just put seeds there anyway. Maybe most of the plants will be devoured by hornmigas, or strangled by palmas roots, but maybe a few will survive for us.
Alice Walker© 2008