Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Equinox

I'm flummoxed about how time escaped me and I have fallen out of my lunar cycle about blogging. I can offer excuses like losing track of the phase of the moon in Ecuador, it always hiding above the cloud blanket, or having been down with the flu for a couple of weeks but in reality it takes a strong will to accomplish any intention no matter what the circumstances and of course the competition of other priorities interferes too.

Today I will myself to take keyboard in hands, sitting up in bed to write before I do anything else. Even though, I sit here guiltily knowing that the hens want to be freed from their coop. Our days here at MendoDragon are framed by releasing and feeding the hens in the morning and tucking them back into their coop in the evening. So I'm putting on my clogs right now and running out in my pajamas to do just that. I'll be right back...

They were more than ready to be released, all 9 of them. Four of them are only 8 months old but look full grown now. They were fertile eggs from friends in Philo. We tucked them under broody Zsa Zsa last summer after realizing she wouldn't budge until she hatched something. Her own eggs are not fertile since we don't have a rooster. We opted to keep the noise down and the rape. I'm not saying all roosters are unpleasant but past experiences have been challenging. When roosters start attacking the hand that feeds them that makes them undesirable.

We did have a sweet banty rooster once with feathery feet. I guess you could say he was a new age sensitive rooster because when he was in the chicken yard and spotted a morsel to eat he would make a particular sound and call over the hens and offer it to them. He made a soft little crowing noise, too. He fertilized eggs and we had hens that got broody and hatched them. It was so sweet to see a mini little rooster with feathery feet emerge. A hen, hatching and caring for her brood is one of the most heart warming motherly things in the world to witness. The little peepers trail around so close to Mama exploring around the yard learning to scratch and then sleep tucked under her at night. This looks really funny when they get older and don't fit under her anymore but still insist on being there. Having them secured in their coop at night is crucial as they are so vulnerable to raccoon, fox and weasels and it is such a sad loss to see massacred hens and chicks first thing in the morning. We have a sign up sheet for house and yard chores and take turns making sure there is always someone available to begin and end the day caring for the hens. After all...they are providing about 2 dozen eggs a week now and we are very thankful to them for that.

Gathering eggs feels like getting to have a treasure hunt everyday even though they are not usually hard to find. A couple of weeks ago we harvested some honey comb, too. The gold of the yolk of the egg and the golden flower nectar neatly packed in the geometrically perfect form of the comb are everyday miracles worth more than the currency we would get if we were to sell them. The quality of life would go down more than a few notches without them. Even primitive life included these gifts. Another beauty of these two particular blessings is the potential for their abundance. With enough hens and enough hives it's not unusual to have so much that there is extra to sell or barter. I'd still rather trade eggs for artichokes and keep the money out of the equation.

In case you are wondering about my trip to Ecuador it was full of psychological polarities even if geographically on the equator. Canoa, the coastal resort town did have a wide expanse of white sandy beach and warm water. Witnessing the sun shimmer on the breathing waves of mother ocean is always a spiritual experience for me. But I needed to walk north beyond the littering crowds of people to break free of all the debris on the beach to experience this communion.

I then spent the afternoon picking up plastic in all of it's manufactured forms from small screw caps, and bits of rope to the large soda bottles. I imagined myself living there dedicated to working with the community to start a recycling program. Just like our friends from InforAmazon in Brazil who are educating to clean up litter along the rivers there. The other striking polarization was the ubiquitous undernourished unwanted dogs on the one hand and the growing number of overly coddled designer dogs on the other hand. More than ever Ecuador needs a dedicated mobile force of veterinarians to euthanize, spay and neuter.

I had a deep connection with two women, Goretti and Olgmanka, from the Amazon who came to Mindo during Carnaval. They were among the vendors in a big tent selling jewelry made from naturally colorful seeds large and small. Goretti was dressed in full regalia with red markings on her face as she was part of a troupe of traditional dancers. I admired the arm and ankle bands she wore that made a pleasing sound like rain bouncing on broad leaves when she moved. I was delighted to notice a pair for sale on her table. I did not haggle when told the price which made Goretti smile and then gift to me a pair of earrings. I told Goretti I would think of her when I dance wearing my arm bands and a warm sisterly feeling swept over us making our eyes well. The vendor across the isle, an Otavallean lady from whom I had bought a sweater took our picture and I joked that in Ecuador I get to be the tall one. I'm only 5'1" but a good 4 inches taller than Goretti. Olgmanka then asked if I would email her and attach the picture. Imagine that.....tribally connected on the web.

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