January 26, 2014
Speak about rude awakenings...today is 69 degrees colder than my last two weeks in the dry, sunny Aconcagua Valley in Chile... I'm trying to register 17 degrees, wind chill to 2 degrees. My uniform of t shirt and shorts now resides in memory. Today, sweat pants, a fleece, a cap, and warm socks. Inside. Ouch.
A tale of two porches: Nogales - 86 degrees, humidity less than 10%. Watertown - 17 degrees, wind chill-bone chilling 2 degrees
Arrived home Saturday afternoon January 25, reprogrammed the heating system (the mechanical one in the basement and the internal one in my nervous system), and shuddered every time I looked out the window, snow and ice most prominent through frosted windows. Was that the same sun that heated the earth a few thousand miles away in Chile, I wondered.
This morning I missed the sounds of the imperious rooster from pre dawn till dusk, the doggies barking just about anytime they got excited or talkative about something, Ricardo singing jingle bells (yes), Susaan rattling a bunch of pots and a pressure cooker to create a fabulous lunch, the gentle gurgling of the pool pump, laugher and joking around between Susaan and Ricardo, the occasional call of a swallow or quiltehue, the wind rustling through the eucalyptus or alamo trees, and the sound of 'no sound' compared to my urban environment.
I missed my daily trip down to the cool, shaded barn to see what's going on, horses being tended to by Juanito, Juan Vila hand-pumping gasoline from a barrel into the tractor or wandering into the fields to see Don Pedro or Juan Vila or Julio or Jose Pablo in their assigned roles weeding or irrigating or fertilzing or cutting harvested corn stalks or loading bales of alfalfa into the storage shed or straightening out water hoses that run under the orange trees, all 14,000 of them, and the 1126 new walnut trees Ricardo planted when he pulled up a few thousand orange trees that weren't producing well.
I spent so much time walking around the fifty acre farm that i could feel its pulse, its rhythm. The simple routines of farm life fascinate me. I learned the roles of each of the workers, who seem to regard it as a sin to stand around idly. Most of the work is not mechanized - it's old fashioned manual labor. This is life these men know, have ever known. Watching them I realize how much about the food I eat is the result of efforts like them and others in far away countries. And how much the food industry changed since I was born in the 1940s when just about everything in the market was trucked in from some near or far corner of America. Here I am now spending time in a valley that's a major source of the fruit and vegetable food chain.
Back in the northern hemisphere, I'll get accustomed to the winter weather. I'll fall back into my own routines. But, next time I see the melons, walnuts, apricots, flowers, lemons, peaches, figs, and avocados in the market, I'll think of the dust my feet kick up as I walk around Chilefarms... and labors of people like Don Pedro who planted and cultivated the glorious produce on display.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.