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Archive for the ‘the twigster sister’ Category

The cornfields are thirsty.  They are waiting for rain. The people are desperate. They need a break from the barren, dry land. They turn towards the heavens. They turn towards Tlaloc – he who makes things sprout. They plead for greenery; they plead for their Earth.

The rain begins to fall.
Falling falling falling.

The people now look down.
No more waiting waiting waiting

The soil soaks up the pellets
And drinks up the water
No more waiting waiting waiting

The brown turns to green
The seeds turn to flowers
The fields turn to corn
And the people turn to
Earth.

the twigster and her sister,

Josephine & Francesca

PS: Rainy season began in late May and is now coming to a close, which means that corn harvesting season is right around the corner. ¡Elotes!

Capula: Rain Capsules

Mirasol: Look at the Sun

El Sauz: Watercolors and a threatening sky

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La Catrina dons her
best red sequined dress.
Swishing and swaying,
she will visit her loved ones today.

As she sets out for her trip, the
scent of marigolds finds her and
Clings to the red shiny
details of her embroidered dress.

The sequins, the smell.
They are everywhere.
They celebrate the season.
They celebrate the dead.

They celebrate the life.

Candles light the path of the souls.
The path of the souls to the feast.

As she walks along in her feathered hat,
La Catrina finds her offerings.

Sweet and sugary Pan de Muerto,
A Circle. A circle of bones.

The circle of life.

Friends and family join La Catrina.
Join La Catrina to celebrate
the season
the dead
the life.

A calavera, a skull, and a marigold
stop.
Stop to sing and join in her praise,
to celebrate
her season.

the twigster and her sister,
Josephine & Francesca

PS: Only one more full week of Peace Corps training before I become a Peace Corps volunteer. No puedo creerlo.

 

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My home for the next two years, I thought as I approached Huimilpan for the first time, “the place of the biggest cornfields.” My whole reason for joining the Peace Corps, to live and work in a community, was finally manifesting itself after a month of living in México. It was time for my site visit, time to gather the information I needed to survive physically and mentally for two years. Gathering, recording, processing. It felt a bit like collecting kindling with full arms. My mind was already heavy with new information. Taking a deep breath and fortified by the scent of the sea of flowers surrounding me, I stepped out of Señor Francisco’s car.

A combination of nerves and leaving the controlled setting of my Spanish classroom, instantly transformed this “intermediate” Spanish speaker into an eight year old. Nice to meet you. Smile. Nod. Smile. Fumbling over my words, I desperately tried to link context clues with what my boss was saying. Please,..time..to..process…the..translation. There was no stopping. “This is so and so, and this is my cousin so and so.” Dozens of hands shaken, dozens of kisses given. Nice to meet you. Smile. Nod. And so it went for four days in Huimilpan. Freeing embarrassment from my list of possible emotions, no entiendo, otra vez por favor, became a motiff in every dialogue. Smile. Nod. Locals turned a much-appreciated blind eye to my broken Spanish, helping me to feel less like a fish out of water. People were kind and patient, taking the time to repeat their sentence or say the same things with simpler words. The smile and nod returned if all else failed.

As the days passed, it seemed that the people of Huimilpan were happy just to learn the reason behind why there was this foreigner, the gringa, walking around town. Mexicans aren’t very shy in asking personal questions. Luckily, my family prepared me for this growing up. Uncles always put us on the hot seat during Sunday dinners to interrogate us about the latest boyfriend, or life step. With this experience under my belt, fielding the questions wasn’t too hard to navigate. Thanks, Uncle Joseph. Foreigner celebrity status was a bit harder. Sitting in the plaza after attending the outdoor mass to celebrate the Huimilpan’s patron’s saint, San Miguel, I felt hundreds of pairs of eyes of me. Peace Corps warned us about this. Since we Peace Corps volunteers are the odd ones around in our communities, people will be looking at our every action, all day, everyday. Gaga status. While in site we are “on” all the time.

Gaga status does have its perks though. While visiting one of the communities, Piedra Lisas, and chit chatting with a woman about her different eco-technologies, I was invited to make some tortillas with her using one of her eco-technologies, her efficient wood stove. When conversations involve food, somehow I manage to understand that Spanish. We spent the next hour making and eating corn tortillas with salsa made from the chili peppers she grew in her garden. Hot tortilla in hand and a mouth of fire, I stepped outside for a second and checked out the surrounding view – my new home. It was then that Francesca’s poem popped into my head. Francesca wrote “Simplistic Beauty” for me when I graduated from Tulane to serve as a constant reminder of the person I am, and the person I hope to be.

“There is nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” With this as my mantra, Huimilpan didn’t seem as intimidating anymore. I went back to my host house in the city of Querétaro, took out my Spanish Grammar Book, and got to work. After all, I can improve a lot in the month before my service begins in Huimilpan.

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: After an extended period of  thinking about every verb ending before speaking, all I wanted to do is chit chat with other volunteers in English upon my return and know certainly that they understand the sounds rolling off my tongue.

PPS: With only a quick assessment of the community to inform this, I think I will be working to build water cisterns and developing people’s individual gardens!

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Oh, we’re soaring now.
Soaring, soaring
High above the trees.

Higher, higher
High above the trees.
But we cant stay too high for long

No.
We must find somewhere to perch,
If only ’til the morn.

Let’s perch here for a while,
But just for a while to be sure.
Nothing but sunny skies today.

Soaring, soaring
High above the trees.
But I can’t stay on this branch no more.

No.
We must keep on flying.
We must find another way,
Another way to soar.

the twigster and her sister,
Josephine & Francesca

PS: If you find yourself in Woodstock, NY, stop by Candlestock. This candle store has some of the most unique candles I have ever seen.

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When we first arrived at the farm, we noted that the garlic wasn’t quite ready to emerge from the cool earth. No, as steadfast as it is pungent, the garlic was prepared to wait patiently for a few more days of intense heat, growing proportionally stronger with the heat index. So, we spent those days weeding and eating, all the while waiting for the garlic to summon us. As we were in the field, ripping weeds from the earth, the sun baked our backs. The heat the garlic needed, I grudgingly noted.

A few days passed, and a few less pounds of water weight I carried. Growing delirious from the sun, I walked over to the planted garlic. Just as I was about to reconcile that I would not be able to harvest the garlic during my time at the farm, I was given the signal. Several of the lower leaves of the garlic were brown, but the top five or six leaves were still green. The garlic was ready to be relieved from the dark den it had known the entirety of its life. The garlic was ready to metamorphose from a mere plant to the beloved raw garlic cloves we all reach for while cooking.

Francesca and I were so excited to harvest the garlic. This was the main reason we returned to Threshold Farm – to see a process come full circle. Cycles are inherent to the entire concept behind the farm, permaculture. Produce no waste, create feedback loops, and integrate the community. We loosened the dirt, and before long, the circle we began to draw in October, was complete.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: The vampires will stay far away from me. Hehe.

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Row after row of carrots demanded our attention. Overtaken by weeds, the bushy carrot greens signaled us down to their level. “Look,” they pleaded, “could you help me get some room to breathe?” As worshippers to the tasty and nutritious vegetables of organic farming, us wwoofers knew we had to answer the carrots’ request. A chemical spray certainly wasn’t worthy or welcome for the job. No, this was the job for a wwoofer, a job for someone willing to work hard to see the carrots thrive, a job for someone averse to sacrificing nutrition for ease.

Defying the 90° F weather, we started removing the intruders around 7:00 AM in an effort to evade the sun’s direct light for a few hours. 2 wwoofers hoed down the majority of the jungle of weeds, while another 2 wwoofers delicately picked out the weeds from among the juvenile carrots. Although hand-pulling weeds is a time-consuming process, it is also a safe way to ensure that you don’t eliminate your crop while trying to help it. On our hands and knees, we worked down the row, kick starting the arduous process of defeating the carrots’ competition with the weeds for light and nutrients.

Succulents, grasses, and stinging nettles were ripped from the soil, and placed in the valleys of the beds. Once the carrots’ pests, the weeds became the carrots’ allies, returning nutrition to the soil and nurturing the planted vegetables. As we worked, we began to see the defined rows of carrots emerge, their greens as glorious as the plumage of a proud peacock. Biscuit, the farm dog, visited us from time to time offering an encouraging nudge as we worked. When one o’clock came around, our weeding ended for the day and we returned home for lunch. In celebration of all we had accomplished, I loaded my hand-rolled sushi with a handful of sweet carrot strips, savoring each crunch that ensued.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Did you know that the greens of carrots are edible? Try mixing them in with your salad for a new twist on a summer dish.

Weeded versus unweeded rows

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Systematically, Francesca and I threw individual garlic cloves onto the raised bed. Clove after clove thudded to the ground, each six inches from the prior. As we worked, the white cloves began to transform the mounds of dirt into polka dot displays, a juvenile form of natural art. Snaking our way through the beds, we returned to the start of each to drive the cloves four inches underground using nothing but the force of our thumbs. Barefoot as we worked, we welcomed October’s cold and hard morning soil underfoot. So desperate to connect with the earth after too many months in the city, I wanted to align myself with the terra on every level possible. I savored the sensation of soil between my fingertips and welcomed the sun’s rays on my back. I watched the roaming chickens with adoration as the creatures pecked at the soil in pursuit of their morning breakfast. I inhaled deeply as the wind passed bringing with it the smell of cow dung from the barn. All the while, Francesca and I kept our system alive, mimicking the cycles of the earth. Throw garlic. Push garlic into the soil. Return to the start of a new row. A rhythmic routine.

Long after Francesca and I left Threshold Farm to return to the Big Apple, the scent of garlic followed us. We caught whiffs of the pungent yet somehow sweet odor lingering on our hands, and with that perfume still in our nostrils, Francesca and I vowed to return to Threshold Farm to see the fruits of our labor.

Now, five months later, we are back in the garlic beds, ready to reap what we sowed. Here we are in Philmont, NY. Stay tuned for more adventures on Threshold Farm.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Threshold Farm now has some piggies! Oink.

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