Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lucky the Child Who Meets a Mentor


My elderly and vigorous Hispanic neighbor across the way--his family farming here for centuries, and a wonder source of story--calls my name.

I look up from weeding flower beds.

"Where are you?" 


" I'm on the way," closing the garden gate and waving.

He has a marvelous tool for me to use which he rescued from the mine that closed north of here; calls it a "Pulaski." His version is like a grub hoe/shovel combo.  

Pulaski was a mid 19th century "ranger, miner, inventor and heroic fire fighter" who devised a tool for first responders in forest conflagrations. The original is like an axe and grub hoe.

Pulaski's famous for saving most of a fire crew of 45 men by ordering them into an abandoned mine tunnel and flat on the ground; don't move. Lost two horses though, who couldn't lie on their bellies to avoid the smoke inhalation.

My neighbor had just built a shrine in the back yard with his Pulaski, flowers planted all around a vivid statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Above it are single pink roses in bloom; some of the oldest brought here from Spain long ago are double. The valley is rich with wild blossom. I have my eye on future rose hips to gather this fall.

"Do you know their name," he asks?


"Rosa de Castilla."

I tell him I have heard that sightings of the Holy Mother are often accompanied by the fragrance of roses. A kindly and generous man, he beams.

He offers to help me with getting acequia water to the gardens I'm tending. He has arranged a gravity feed/pump inventiveness to bring mountain spring flows to his fruit trees and roses.

We talk apricot jam and how to dry the wild plums, still green but fruiting in staggering profusion.

The river bottom land below my adobe cottage and the casita itself used to belong to his family; went to his sisters. 

He grew humongous potatoes in the bottom land, but his sisters sold their portion, the family legacy.

"I should have bought it," he mourns.

"Oh, dear God, rich land--I once had a farm--it's the wealth we're beginning to remember, as real.

"Young folks are apprenticing on the organic farm north of here," I tell him, "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and it fills me with hope." 

Old knowledge and an ever-new adventure. Photo below taken at cold spring planting time:

"5 apprentices & 
2 old farmers"

Stories and herb lore books 
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