Tag: history

bandelier: make-believe come true.

When I was a kid I had an obsession with Native Americans. I loved Pocahontas and learning about different tribes in school. Josefina was my first (and therefore most loved) American Girl Doll. When my mom found out that my babysitter’s father was 50% native american she set up a meeting so I could meet him.

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I may have gotten the little bro involved…

I played a lot of make-believe. I had an absurd amount of dress-ups and 20 acres of land to imagine on. For two straight years, or maybe more, I imagined life as a native in Maine. I made a teepee and pranced around the woods pretending every living thing had a spirit. Even though these woods provided me the ability to imagine the impossible I was highly bothered by the fact that I didn’t look the part. This was probably impounded by the fact that my best friend did. I wished my blonde hair and fair skin away.

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hoeing through history.

I was assigned to weed the squash field with my coworker Ana. The rest of the crew had gone to another of the farm’s properties. Once the roar of the rototiller died down it was near silent. No machinery, no cars, no people talking. We hoed in silence as we listened to the wind, the birds and the river flowing nearby.

We weeded for three hours. A repetitive motion like that leaves space for the mind to wander. I found myself thinking about hoeing (and not the selling my body kind, stop that). First I noticed how my body seemed to be built for the motion – the bend of my knees, the strength of my back, the continuous fluid movement of my arms.

Then, after a few hours, my upper back muscles started to protest softly, irritated with the strain. It occurred to me that this pain, the soreness of my muscles from tending the soil, is an ancient pain. It is a soreness that people from pasts forgotten, cultures I have never heard of, felt too. Centuries of people cultivated food using the same motion I use every day at my job. Centuries of people went to bed with the same sore bodies. And centuries of people consumed the harvests their labor sowed.

The hoe is an ancient technology mentioned in documents that go back to 18th century BC, such as the Code of Hammurabi (a Babylonian law code). They were probably preceded only by the digging stick and originally made from flinted stones and simple metal work.

I am fascinated by the realization that despite centuries of innovation here I am, still hoeing, every day. It’s a humbling realization, and a humanizing one. Through the simple motion of breaking the ground I can relate to the centuries of people who inhabited this planet before I did. I am reminded that future generations will most likely do the same. And despite any differences between people then, now and in the future – food is the inescapable thread that binds us.

 

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