Ah, Peace Corps. In the span of a week, I’ve gone from a schedule full of tests, grading, traveling, shopping, and cooking to a schedule where working on my bike is the highpoint of my day. My kitchen is clean, my furniture has been rearranged, my house is clean, my laundry is done, and I have finished 3 books.
For any of you who might be envious, I remind you that the only requirements for Peace Corps service are that you be 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and not in the employ of any intelligence service. In 6-12 short months, you too could be hauling your own water, sweating for no good reason, and wielding your very own machete.
Which brings me to this week’s topic: gardens. Having never tended my own garden, much less put one in, I may be getting myself into more work than I bargained for, but when you think about it, there’s really no good reason for a person with my amount of free time *not* to put in a garden. It gives me an excuse to play in the dirt, and I (hopefully) get some fresh vegetables out of it. Plus, it’s pretty much the only way I can get things like lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and green peppers without subjecting myself to 3 hours of round-trip travel over roads that make Michigan look like the pinnacle of modern civil engineering.
It’s been a slow process. I got the gardening bug at the beginning of the previous term, when my storm-damaged plantain tree started to die and I thought, “you know, that looks like a good place for a garden.” The tree continued dying, and I began plotting. As the end of the term approached, I found a couple of students to help me in the beginning stages, and began starting some seeds.
Today, I put on my straw hat, got out my machete, and got busy. All that remains is tree stumps, which should soften with the rains I’m hoping for tonight and come out easily tomorrow. Plantain trees are members of the palm family, which means that they have soft trunks and shallow roots. Tomorrow, the students and I start the hard work of tearing out the roots and turning over the soil.
Once the tree is no more, I plan to burn the remnants, turn some of the ashes in with the soil, and build a fence to keep the sheep out. From there, we plant and hope for the best.
My cat is now sleeping on my lap, which means that I have to get up and take a shower. Such a hard life she leads. Until next time…