Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goats, gratitude, and Happy Thanksgiving!

The rainbow is the first of this rainy season and happened on Sunday, November 21, the night of the full moon, or even the blue moon, if you will. I had watched the moonrise for a couple of nights in anticipation of the blue moon, and wouldn’t you know it? We had a series of magnificent thunderstorms on Sunday, so the moonrise was hidden in cloud cover. No matter. I was treated to the beautiful, lovely full, blue moon in the middle of the night and I imagined a chorus of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and smiled at knowing that Louisville would soon be seeing it: keep on shining blue moon of Kentucky!

(You guys are seven-or-even eight hours behind me now with Daylight Savings time, so by the time you see the moon, I’m fast asleep or even only waking up!!)

The other photo is a shot from that same evening. I’ve taken to visiting a nearby vacant trailer each evening where I retreat to a shaded back porch to avoid the hottest part of the day and the blare of my neighbors’ preaching. (I have neighbors who enjoy listening to their favorite preacher from a very high noise level on their TV/stereo system and it grates on my nerves. At the risk of offence, I’ve never understood the attraction to threats of damnation, hell, and brimstone and having someone scream about it for hours at a time.) The back porch of the vacant trailer has become a favorite spot and on the night of the storms I photographed this thorn tree in the lovely evening light. (I had to work hard to make such a lovely shot: it isn’t nearly that lovely where I sit each evening.)

And the photos at the bottom are of what is remaining of my garden. The goats have won! I have lost! I wasn’t as devastated as I thought I would be, as, after all, I was expecting it. I was shooing the goats away every day and knew there would come a day when I wouldn’t be there to shoo them and they’d have their snack of my vegetables undisturbed. I took heart in the fact that they didn’t uproot everything and in fact, the vegetables, especially the amaranth, is likely to leaf out again. I also appreciated the fact that my zinnia blooms seemed unappetizing to them, although they did eat the zinnia buds on the plants.

A neighbor came by last night to cluck and suck teeth with me to sympathize in my disappointment. She encouraged me, as others have, to “build my thorn fence thicker and higher.” She and others are right: the thorn fence would be very effective if higher and thicker, but I’ve run out of enthusiasm for building thorn fences: I ruined a pair of pruners, a good pair of leather gloves, and a long sleeved shirt to build what I have, not to mention the scratches and pricks—and bleeding!--in my skin I have endured in building. Also, when I was building my thorn fence, it was winter, and I wasn’t as afraid to harvest my thorn branches from the bushveld as I hoped, hoped, hoped that snakes were in hibernation. I can’t say the same now that it is summer, and think it foolish and unwise to be out and about cutting brush in an area of the world that is home to some of the most venomous snakes on the planet. I will chalk the failed thorn fence up to lessons learned: adequate fencing of gardens is absolutely necessary if one wants to protect vegetable plants from free-roaming goats. If I’m to help the people in my village with food gardens, fencing, and good, sturdy fencing, is top priority.

This is the week of Thanksgiving, so Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will be spending the holiday with my Peace Corps family and fellow Americans and (celebrating in spirit with my family back home!)

An important part of my spiritual practice is to write a daily gratitude list and in honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share my gratitude list with you. So for today, I’m grateful for the following (and in no particular order):

• fresh apricots

• a nice Italian roasted coffee in my French press

• chakalaka spicy enough to require tissues

• and then cooled with a nice dollop of sour cream

• hand-washed laundry drying in the sun

• African neighbors full of music and joy

• wild birds waking me each morning

• my sobriety and abstinence that foster a connection to God

• my family of blood and my family of choice

• my sons, my sons, my sons

• Africa in all her prickles and bites

• USA in all of its comforts!

• life, blood, sweat, tears, sorrow

• breath, renewal, hope, refreshment

• health, vitality, vigor

• mobility, motion, movement

• safety, security, comfort, peace

• thorn trees

• South African thunderstorms

• my African home, privacy, electricity, clean water

• clothing, money, having enough

• healthy, nutritious food

• my African community

• fellow Peace Corps volunteers

• my computer, internet access, letters, books

• education, learning, teaching, knowing

• being, spirituality, song, dance

• and YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving! May your holiday be full of love, happiness, blessings, and gratitude!


PS. I will “unplug” myself for a few days to enjoy food and fellowship--so no worries if you don’t hear from me. Love you!

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