February 28, 2016
This may turn out to be an “eat your heart out” type of missive so stand prepared. Here in some the tropical portion of the southern hemisphere, it is summer with all the heat and humidity that goes with it. As soon as the sun comes out, the temperature jumps into the 80s and 90s. The positive side of this (I thrive in cool and cold weather) is that gardens are producing and fruits are available all the time. By now, at home in Maine, I have struggled through at least two bouts of psychological scurvy. I always shop the right hand side of the grocery store but can’t seem to avoid that moment, midwinter, when I can visualize a fresh strawberry in one of the U-Pick fields in Warren — the juice dribbling down my face as I illegally sample a berry (did I say “a”?). Or I buy a tomato and it takes a tomahawk to chop into it. Here, the corn is all tasseled out and stands ten feet tall (another indication that it is cow corn), we have seven inch diameter watermelons ripening, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, Chinese cabbage, zucchini, and cucumbers coming in daily. Michael also makes fresh bread weekly, so life at the table is good! One of our students, Joyeaux Noel, is here for his school break and is so excited to eat a variety of foods. He eats porridge and nsima every day at school. That’s it. And that is all white! How can a young mind develop on that menu??!!
Here, we have planted our demonstration bamboo patch and it seems happy, overlooking the valley and the mountain which it has been assigned to protect. It has a huge mission ahead of it! The Senior Chief is very excited by the prospects of having a patch near each house in each village. With all the wood the villagers burn, having a ready source at the doorstep seems a natural. And, with all the cutting all year, it is hard to imagine the bamboo getting out of control. I can’t believe I am extolling the virtues of a plant I declared war on many years ago and have tried to eradicate from every place I have ever lived. But, here, it seems to have a place and could prove to be a sustainable source of wood in a wood starved country.
One other short note about the fauna in the area. It is hunting season and that means people are shooting and trapping the monkeys and baboons, so they have made themselves very scarce. No sightings in at least two weeks. On the other hand, the hyenas have found something interesting near here and I have heard them running through the yard each night this week. At home, I check for footprints in the snow to record the previous night’s activities but here, I just look in the mud. That’s some of the news from Malawi.
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