Animal encounters

Animal encounters

Two animals ended up in black trash bags by the end of the day.  For all the plant life we nurture and control on the farm, there usually isn't much animal life to speak of.  Richard's two "guard" dogs that live on site might have something to do with it.  There are rodents off and on, lots of snakes, a stray cat or two that lay low and scurry away whenever I spot them, and all manner of spiders and insects.  But big animals (besides the human variety) are rare.  So to have two close encounters in one day overshadows any of the other highlights of the day I can imagine.

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Annual blueberry picking

Annual blueberry picking

I went blueberry picking on Sunday with my dear friends Sherman and Matt.  When some people say blueberry picking, they mean filling up a bowl with enough berries to make a pie or snack on for the week.  When I say blueberry picking, I'm not messing around.  We left with about 100 pounds of huge, ripe, mouth-watering fruits, my hatchback filled on all surfaces with boxes, our fingers stained and our bellies full….

Ah yes!  In reality it's Mama who is right: tanks are perishable, pears are eternal

- Milan Kundera in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting 

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Forgettable injuries

….These are the everyday scrapes and bruises that tend to disappear from my memory as soon as they're healed.  For some reason, some of them linger, even after I can see no sign of them on my skin.  That fist scrape is completely invisible now.  Not even a scar.  The one still healing on my knuckle will fully fade in just a couple more weeks.  Like it never happened. 

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Ya se acaba

Today is my last day in Ecuador. ...Wait, ¿¿¿Qué???  How did that happen?!  While I have been soaking up sun and wandering markets and letting español plant itself surely in my brain, four and a half months passed.  Right under my nose.  Like my constant ache for home and simultaneous love for this country could continue forever, side by side confounding and delighting me.  I want to cry when I think of how joyous it will be to reunite with my family and friends, and I want to cry when I think of how much I will miss the places and people I´ve known here.  I already miss many of them, more than I imagined was possible.  I will miss being able to get on or off an interprovincial bus at any point along the highway (forget bus stations!), and the whirl of raucous music bumping in time with the curves and jolts in the journey.  I will miss the steep scent of eucalyptus that cuts through the Panamerican highway smog and inundates me, welcoming me back to the Sierra.  The rows of roasting chickens in windows along every street, and the way they stealthily pique my appetite even when out of sight.  The sight of indigenous women in ponchos and felt hats, colorful and daring amidst the hubbub of modern Quito.  A warm sea.  One-dollar golden coins jingling in my pockets.  Machetes and banana trees and being told I´m linda by random passerby.

I will miss making fleeting decisions and acting them without needing to consult anyone.  What I look forward to, though, is having people I love and trust to consult, when needed.  I look forward to reliable hot showers and free, clean public bathrooms.  To not worrying about only having $20 bills that no one can break.  To exercising my precise usage of the English language, and to fresh greens and salads at my disposal.  I look forward to having a cell phone and a computer, and to spinning my gorgeous nieces until we´re dizzy and giggling.  I can´t wait to show you more photographs and try to express all that I´ve been unable to in writing.  It will be good.  It will be, and has been, all very good.

All this time to myself has given me an opportunity to brainstorm-- probably far too much-- about what to Do With My Life.  The world works in myriad, mysterious, marvelous ways, and I can´t say that I have a much firmer idea about how to continue than when I arrived here.  I might still need to study more (in Academia) to satisfy my tenacious search for understanding.  I will certainly be practicing more agriculture and participating in local food movements-- what I see as solutions to un montón de problemas that we face.  No matter what, the fact that I often catch myself thinking in Spanish will serve some good.  De ley voy a seguir con todo que me gusta, y de ley seguir encontrando lo bueno más y más cada año.

I named this blog from a song I wrote late last year: ¨I´m the shape of milk pouring, steady, steady...¨  Funny, now, that the shape of milk has shaped my many paths during my stay here in Ecuador.  Fresh milk first flowed into my life at the FBU farm, every morning at sunrise, and made its place in my heart (and stomach) during my stay with Marco.  It has made instant coffee delicious and ¨boring¨ queso fresco ever-distinct and tasty.  What strikes me now is that it is dearly missing from my homeland.  Even whole fat organic milk can´t compare with that glob of yellowish cream floating atop a pot of boiled milk from a nearby vaca.

Maybe I´ll end up raising cows and providing you all with the sweetness of that daily froth.  In the meantime, as paisajes and avenidas fade to memory and my body adjusts to clean tap water and burritos, I´ll be saying a long, loving adiosGracias.