Monday, July 13, 2009


Now that planting is mostly over, we are moving on to weeding. In some ways I think this work, while back-breaking, is also a blessing. It means that the rain was enough to get the millet to grow, and likewise the weeds are popping up. It's not like weeding at home, where you sit or crouch and pull on stems (which is also hard work, absolutely!) It's done with another hoe-like tool, which has a more curved end. You tackle the rows head on, and hack and chop madly through the dirt, uncovering everything except what you planted, which gets to stand proudly, all tufty and green. It's quite a show- muscular, sweaty, full-of-motion men and women bent over and pushing their way through the greengreengreen.

Salla and Shaibou on the first day of weeding; Narba is going out to greet them

It will take a month to weed one of Narba's fields- maybe that gives you an idea of how big the fields are, and how slow the work goes. We'll be more split up for this work- we may be at different fields, or in far apart sections of the same ones. But some days we'll be together. Salla, Shaibou, and Badaru will head out before sunrise, and Mariama, Rasida, Sadiya and I will follow with food mid-morning. Zuera will stay at home with her new baby, Minaya. The little kids- Kadir, Oweli, Rahman, and Rabi- will chase each other around in the shade and step on thorns, then holler for one of us to come pick them out. Narba will go where she pleases, and when she comes near me she will insist that I rest, which I will refuse to do.

Working with everyone in the fields has been a strong reminder of how much I have learned in the last year. To understand how and when and why people do the work that they do- I am getting there! I am learning what is necessary, what is extra, what isn't quite enough to live.

Last year, I couldn't quite follow the beat- I felt like a pale little rock in a dark stream of very busy, beautiful, moving people. This year, I have a family and a place. Now, I guess you could say that the current has lifted me up. Sometimes I fight it, but I live for the moments when I realize I'm moving with it.

1 comment:

Chef E said...

I am so glad that I found your beautiful site...I to have been out of rhythm these past years...I just was also discussing planting and harvesting according the earths cycles, and its benefits to our earth...I also am thinking of the struggles that these people face each day, and we have such an easy life in our country... Dirt is a beautiful thing too...