WWOOF España: Finding Peace in the Finca

So my last post was all about a wwoof experience gone completely awry. In the true contrarian habit of life and travel, I now want to write about one that gets it right.

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A week after leaving the farm in Yecla. I got on a bus from Malaga to Torrox exhausted from sleepless noisy hostels, but as usual optimistic. Two fellow Americans were waiting for me at the bus stop. Their last place of residency was also NY; I was really surprised to find two other Brooklyn residents, (not native) in this rural part of Spain. I don’t remember much from that short car ride, just fleeting thoughts that the open air and windy dusty roads were a good start. I walk through the doors of a stunning Spanish villa and am transported back to England. There are 10 other people standing in the living room, all from the UK, except the two other Americans. They are all smiles and, “Are you ok?” I stand there somewhat consciously trying to grapple my head around all the people and their places here. Eventually all the pieces come together and I figure out who the hosts are, who are visiting family members, who are past and present wwoofers; who stays and who goes.

I was at Finca La Paz for a little under a month and the shifting of wwoofers, and visitors, and friends was consistent and played a huge part in my stay. But what played a larger role was the finca, the land, the garden; and what I could find there. The garden has been up and running for about six years and in the last two years or so a permaculture design and practice has been more rigorously implemented.  There were 12 huertos, vegetable beds, and over 60 different fruit trees not including dozens of olive trees. I could spend a post on each vegetable bed I think, expect for two and seven. Two just had asparagus that we just looked at in confusion for the first two weeks or so and eventually started watering twice a day. Bed seven just had sweet potato whose irrigation got turned off so they looked a little maltreated. But I spent a few hours weeding and mulching and with the irrigation back on in 10 only days or so they looked grateful for being remembered.

 

 

So permaculture is basically using nature with nature and not against itself. No spraying of pesticides, no extreme use of fossil fuels, only for the strimmer. We don’t just weed carelessly and profusely, rather we pull weeds and mulch, using them around vegetables and fruits to protect the soil from the drying tendencies of the wind and the sun. There are no chemical fertilizers, but the soil in the south of Spain is extremely dry so once a week there is a plant feed. There are four different types of fertilizers we used: potassium, nitrogen, iron, and manure water. The potassium is made up of ash from the fire place mixed with water. The nitrogen water is made of these weeds called stinging nettles. Their name is pretty self- explanatory, if you touch them with your bare hands you feel this burning, stinging sensation for about 10 minutes then it goes away. There was an agave plant that really helped for the impatient, like me. Mush up the stinging nettles and add water for nitrogen water. The iron water is made up of old pieces of iron soaked in the water and the sun for ages. Add more water, get more iron water. Manure water is exactly how it sounds. Let manure, a pretty horses’ or handsome donkeys’, sit in a tub for about a year so it becomes all liquid and gross-ish, and then it’s like Herminoe waved a piece of wood around, or time just passed, either way it’s manure water. All that is needed is a thin layer of feed into a watering can and then it is fully diluted with water.

A wwoofer veteran who has been coming to finca la paz every winter for four years left a manual behind with all the rules and guides of what to do; connecting huerto  to huerto. He wrote some lovely quotes one is, “Trust mother nature she knows how to take care of herself better than you do.” I guess that is what permaculture is, it is acknowledging the fact that the natural forest thrives and lives so well without human interaction. To use nature for cultivation we should follow the model she has set.

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Now in our oil drenched, energy obsessed age of comfort that is easier said than done. There are all these things we need. But besides that we have processed nature so far from herself it will take a few years for her to get her groove back. When she does, we may have to change a few of these needs to not cramp her style too much. Long hot showers, high toilet paper usage, non-local diets, electricity and running water for days. If we think about the source of many things we find “normal” well they are actually quite luxurious. If we think of the amount of energy and water is used for flushing toilets, running water while washing dishes, fully lite homes in the nighttime, and having excess food waste (as I am guilty of as someone pointed out because I tend to leave a bite behind), it isn’t permaculture. It isn’t using nature the way it was intended to be use. But baby-steps, this isn’t a sprint.

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Every week I spent at finca la paz was like taking baby steps; in my mind, intellect, and emotions. My knowledge of the garden and my familiarity with what the plants needed and liked slowly grew. Getting to know the chickens better and looking after them. Making a compost heap with brown and green matter. Planting baby tomato and basil plants with another wwoofer and watching both relationships grow. Coming from an experience that left my guard sky high and slowly letting the daily tasks and the sun melt it down. Like putting straw under strawberries to keep the slugs from munching into them as the sun burned into my muscles. Or carrying sacks of heavy manure up and down the hill in the garden. Harvesting lettuce, oranges, avocadoes, swiss chard, arugula, strawberries, onions, calbrese, broccoli, and many more food items for our lunches and dinners. Skipping down to the chicken house to collect eggs every evening around sunset. Eventually I started to find my equilibrium and optimism in my tasks and the people around me in a balance unlike I have ever had before.

It wasn’t that I was always comfortable or always felt amazing, rather multiple times in a day I felt so present. Now thinking back on it what dragged my emotions in all sorts of turny ways didn’t have to do with the garden. Working there gave mIMG_1515e a calm presentness that can only be truly recognized when it’s gone. But I did appreciate it along the way; at the point when I turned off my knee-jerk reaction to run and seek for who knows what, I saw how truly amazing it all was.

 

Another quote from our garden guide, “You can cut down all the flowers, but you can’t cut down the spring.” There is this consistent renewal of energy in nature that is just there, pulsing, driving, procuring, coming. It can’t be stopped. Pain can be felt and others can try to put you down or attempt to take pieces of you from yourself; but each of us as individuals and collectively are a force of ourselves that cannot be stopped. To be immersed in the beauty of that left me feeling aided in the pursuit of my life, I guess, or something of the sort. It is just an energy that cannot be defined.

 

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WWOOF España: Cuando las cosas se Desmoronan

I don’t want to write this story, but I feel unsure how to move forward with this online journal of mine without telling it. So here it is.  I arrived at a farm in Yecla, Spain on Feburary 21st. I was told before that there would be a man named Justo on the farm and other wwoofers. My bus pulls into the station at about 11pm and Justo was there waiting for me. He spoke only Spanish, but really slow Spanish which I was grateful for; my Spanish has been slowly improving but it’s nowhere near fluency. In the car on the way to his house he mentioned something about another pueblo or house and how I could ride a bike to go there. I just learned how to ride a bike recently (I know, no judgments please) and was nervous that there was a lot of travel for work. So I asked a question about if there is a lot of work at this other house. He obviously misunderstood and said this isn’t a hotel. I immediately felt uncomfortable, offended, and honestly a little bad about wwoofer reputation that he just met me and felt the need to remind me that his home isn’t a hotel.

The next day when there were only two places set for breakfast I realized that there were no other wwoofers. I was looking forward to working with people, but was pretty indifferent at the same time, it is just how things go. He has a beautiful home there is a patio in the middle of it where the sun or stars can shine down. It is in the shape of a square and opposite the main house are two spare rooms where the wwoofers sleep. The bedroom was made up of a mat with a sleeping bag, a bathroom, and no heat. In the back of the house was a huge garden with lots of plants covered with mulch next to rows of broccoli, lettuce, garbanzo beans. Lots of nice green things. We gathered vegetables for lunch and headed to “el campo.” Where we worked is about a 7 minute drive from the house and basically the whole time I was there we were putting up fences to protect the almond trees from the rabbits. The work was monotonous, physical, and a bit technical. Also the weather was really cold and windy. But it was good, I like the feeling of being physically exhausted and then eating the healthy slow food. I felt great. When we return to the house for dinner I felt that Justo had become more comfortable with me.  He started sharing his opinions about all the problems in the world, and about how America, New York in particular, is the devil’s home etc. I have my own feelings about my home city and country from personal, social, and political perspectives. My opinions are not more valid than another persons; but it is difficult to listen to someone speak with so much authority on a place they have never even been. At first it was a conversation between similarly minded people. But it soon became a lecture about everything, particularly food. He went onto say food is so important and he understands this more than other people and how what he grew was far superior to everything. I understood what he meant but I also thought of all those farms in Ireland I saw and how I met so many people who were actively living lives off the grid. No use of fossils fuels, limited use of supermarkets and who composted everything, down to their own poop. I was confused and tired and just waiting impatiently for my exit.

The next few days were about the same. The same demanding work, the same organic food, and Justo’s attitude remained the same but became more difficult as the complaining and judging became more insistent. He would say how his whole life is a lot of work and no one else wants to work, no other life is as difficult as his. How he wants to change the world with his almond trees and organic food. How the wwoofers come from big cities and they don’t work enough and having them is more work for him. How wwoofers don’t respect his life. Also how everyone kept leaving. How no one wanted to work as hard for a brighter future. How no one cared as much as he did. Sometime in the middle of my stay I finally said, I thought that the work was fine, that the food was good but that the energy was really negative and heavy. And that I felt he had many great facets to his life here but that it doesn’t matter if it isn’t a place people want to live. I said that for him to get what he wanted he couldn’t expect everyone who came here to be who he wanted them to be. That he would have to change as well. He said he heard me but then I think he just started resenting that exact thing about everyone. No one was him; therefore, everyone was somehow less.

Things just got harder. The next Friday, after we finished working I was looking forward to running away to my cold room. But he started talking about not having wwoofers anymore and how he was just alone. He basically reiterated all the negative things he had said previously. I went and took a shower and stayed in my room the rest of the evening not even resurfacing for dinner. The next day was the same, he was quiet. I ate breakfast and was off for the day, so I take a bike ride. I came back and helped him in the garden a bit before lunch. We ate in silence for the most part, then I mention something my brother told me about the soil on Church Ave in Brooklyn. They were going to grow something but the soil was so bad from years of pollution that is was impossible. I just said it to say something really and to talk about sustainability and hopefully lead to something about alternative ideas of growing food in NYC. A few moments later he said, “I am sad today.” I really didn’t want to but of course I said “Por que?”

He went on to say how he is dead, how the world is dead, and how everyone thinks everything is far away. The soil in NYC, the war in Iraq, Hiroshima, all these things are far away and everything is dead. He said he can stay in his little oasis and nothing can be done about the rest of the world. The energy has stopped, and he is already dead. I try to say something, and he cuts me off, “You and me no talky talky.” He went on to say, “Tu tienes no problemas, you are good, you are fine.” I was  infuriated I had confided in him things about me and what my life has been like. How my father works 7 days a week, how the people he blames for ruining the world also affect the people in America, in NYC, and how I know people who struggle every day to make ends meet, just the same as him. Not everyone can work the land, not everyone is concerned with the making of food, but that doesn’t make them less than him. That last day he just seemed to see his life and nothing else outside of it.

I see this as the problem. The people in suits have no idea about his life and the struggles he faces. And he dismiss everyone who doesn’t have the same values as him. There is no communication, no understanding, and no balance. It doesn’t matter what you do or what your cause is if you’re not willing to integrate your ideas in the reality of our distorted world. No one will hear you and no one will want to be a part of want you want to create.

He goes on ignoring me and saying he is dead. I left shaking. Of all the farms in Spain how the hell did I end up here? I also think he is right. Wwoofers, people, me, a lot of time we use words and not as many actions. Even wwoofers, I mean I have only met a few but not all of them want to change the world they seem to just want an escape and are looking for people who will facilitate that. I sit there thinking ok, I can see what he is saying, but why does he refuse to see me? I went back and asked him if he wants me to leave, he said no, “Es tu casa.” I leave. He comes back and says maybe I should leave and goes on and on, its so much Spanish and my effort to understand dwindles all I hear, “Muerte, todo est muerte.” He has so much and he doesn’t see, he can’t change the world if he can’t even find happiness in the one he has created. He finally leaft to go to el campo. When he came back I ask him when I should leave, he doesn’t respond. I said there are buses tomorrow. “Si, manana major.” Fine. I showed him the bus times and he says, “Que? Am I a taxi?” I prepare the food, I do this and that. At that point I started to cry, is he actually saying I don’t work right now? I said I am not a bad person or a bad worker and he knows this, he had given me many compliments about my work before. He just says you don’t help enough with the food. “Lo siento,” I throw my hands in the air and leave. I go to my room shivering and crying. Then I stopped, this is just life after all.

I packed up my stuff. In the morning I woke up really early to make the first bus, got my things together and left. I said to him good-bye. “Gracias, buenas suerte en su vida.” He wished me the same. I start the 1.5 hour walk to the bus with about 22kg (48lbs) of stuff. I try to hitch but no one would pick me up. I think I felt almost every emotion on that walk to the bus. As I was leaving, I think I was a bit numb, in shock of the situation. Then I started to want to cry. Then I felt grateful, for my strength. That for some reason even though life keeps handing me shit I don’t break down. Then I started thinking about how bad is this truly. For centuries people have been exiled from their land and have had to walk toward new lives. People have walked much further with much more baggage. People have dealt with so much more difficult situations than I have. But in the world I live in, having a bad hair day can ruin your week. Someone leaving you can ruin your decade. To the people I know what happened to me is basically the worst thing that could happen outside physical pain/ death. I thought about that. I thought a lot about my last few days there, replaying our conversations in my head. I thought about how I am not mad; how I felt disbelief about the situation. But also how I felt really bad for him, he must be so sad in his life to treat me like this. I thought about how much this sucks, but this is a part of life and worst things will happen. I mean good things will happen too, and there will be times when nothing happens. I eventually get on the bus and my whole body collapses in exhaustion. As we drive out of Yecla, I thought it is only 9:30am and it’s already over.

My mind continued to write the story way after I sat on that bus. But eventually the script stops, the story integrates among all the other stories told and untold. Life just goes on.

Berlin Daze

Berlin Daze

Berlin was cray-cray. But right now I want to focus on the sanity. I went to Mauerpark flea market the Sunday I was in Berlin. And I lost my friend for almost an hour while it was ice raining, but that is besides the point. I went into a book stand and saw a section of English books and a title that started, “The Abortion:” and finished, “An Historical Romance 1966,” caught my eye. It is by Richard Brautigan and I’ve never heard of him but as I perused the reviews I saw that he was compared to Vonnegut and that is gold to me. So I went to go pay and the very nice looking sales guy told me a bit about his life; apparently Brautigan is very famous and one of his favorite authors, and he got this book when he spent a summer in San Francisco.

Side note: I find it incredible that I meet so many people who life stories expand outside of the country they were born. Many people I have met spent summers here, years there, had really random jobs down under, and it is so casual. And then it surprises me to realize I am one of those people.

After I bought the book, he somewhat bashfully gives me a card deck lay out of post-it notes, everyone who buys a book receives a fortune. I was so excited and thought I really need to actually purchase things at markets more frequently. The writing is in German but translates to, “Don’t hide from the things of life into love. But don’t hide from love into the things of life.” I smiled and walked away trying to not forget it but of course I did and had it translated again at a coffee shop.

It reminds me of a Yeats quote or end of a poem rather, my friend recently sent me.

“A mermaid found a swimming lad, picked him for her own
Pressed her body to his body
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness, that even lovers drown.”

Two somewhat cautious ideas about love and life. Referring to the post-it, even if it isn’t love we hide behind, perhaps it is our principals, we all have a crutch we use to hid from our life when we are afraid or unsure. And touching on Yeats, it is important to note that love or whatever that thing is we seek can as easily be our fall as our saving grace. I guess both quotes really call for balance. Balance is good and all, but being  good and safe, aren’t always the best ways to live. Sometimes things are really up and sometimes situations have me down, but then I put on my rational face and look at things and realize I am fine. Like 95% of the time, if I am being rational and clear-headed my life is fine, my concerns do not really hurt me. I mean it is not a bad thing but it’s not really a good thing either. Maybe it is time to get so lost in something, I drown. Or maybe I shouldn’t. There are no answers just some musings over words.

Where The Magic Is

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Everything I am immersed in while travelling is unfamiliar. After a while the unfamiliarity can have this numbing affect. The newness is more of a passing thought, “Oh this is so beautiful,” “Nice to meet you,” as the new faces and places pass by. But in realization of these small moments is where travel magic lies.

I was just in Berlin with a friend from high school, the type of friend where words are like vomit and you’re looking at pieces you’re not sure you ate. We were talking about connections and the big and small moments of our travels. I think with all the bumps along the road I forgot what my travel connections were made of.

There aren’t always BIG moments. Being in Ireland was so different and so much of everything I was looking for that is was made of many small GRAND moments that were easy to share and see. My New Years was one of the most entertaining and unforgettable evenings/ mornings I have ever had. What happened in Scotland really separates me out from the rest. In those stories lie the GRANDEUR of travel. But travelling is still life and life on the road isn’t automatically a different life, it is still my life. Even in LARGENESS I sometimes express disconnect, I am working on my grass is always greener outlook. Basically I’m saying looking for a diamond is pointless in a sea of jewels.

Today I landed in Madrid, and I have been so excited to get to Spain. I quickly realize no one speaks English, at all, not even a “I don’t speak English.” Just a “No,” then very fast Spanish. I use extremely bad Spanish to get around, but with many hand movements and picking up so some key words, I’m ok. After an hour of walking with my laptop backpack weighing down on my shoulders I arrive at what I believe is Retiro’s park just because it screams splendor. I collapse on a bench exhausted and turn my face to the sun feeling the warmth wash over me. Everything in my body felt the tension of lack of sleep and lots of walking and then slowly I relaxed, like you do when sinking into a comfortable bed after a really long day. I keep my eyes closed for awhile and when I feel the sun shift I open them and stare at the black/brown branches against the blue mostly cloudless sky. I heard runners sneakers crunching on the sidewalk and birds being birds. I thought this is where my travel magic lies. In the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday I can really feel this park the way I never could feel the piece of grass I awkwardly sat in on my lunch hour, really 42 minutes, while I was working my 9-5. I can take this moment and let it wash over me, through me, and understand a piece of something.

For some people travel lie in the ridiculous stories of nights out and adventures with strangers you meet at the hostels. For me it is that too, but mostly it isn’t. That isn’t why I set out to do this.

For me it lies in hitchhiking for the first time and having the young dad who picked us up ask me for advice about motivating his daughter.  It is meeting a boy on a plane and becoming the type of friends who get coffee and update each other on our lives.    It is trying every vegan restaurant in Glasgow.                  It is moving hay for three hours.    It is listening to French rap in a gorgeous flat in Brussels with a guy I met two years ago.       It is being at a birthday party in Holland and connecting with a woman who invites me to her home for the summer.    It is being in a club in Berlin and having strangers touch you.        It is spending three weeks with a girl non-stop and missing her when she leaves.      It is having someone tell me I’m a “stay”  people.    It is eating vegan for 5 days.     It is spending three hours trying to get two donkeys back behind the gate.  It is touching knees with strangers who don’t speak my language.    It is walking a horse on a dark road with trucks and cars driving by.       It is getting shown way too many youtube videos and me trying to escape in a one room flat.            It is watching a lot of movie classics.         It is not wearing a bra for two weeks.       It is really not liking a girl then completely changing my opinion about her and actively seeing that no, I do not know all.     It is doing yoga in front of a burning fire.      It is watching my friend sing at an open mic in Manchester and being her manager for a night.            It is cutting down my own Christmas tree.       It is getting into all 5 grad schools I applied to.    It is being surrounded by pink moss and tall green trees. It is being in the evolution of a 5 day relationship.     It is being on a farm by myself for a day and realizing I knew how to do everything and really feeling proud and relaxed.     It is being honest.     It is mediating for the first time and crying afterwards and having a friend of nine years hug me.

It is travelling for 9 hours and seeing the smiling face of a person I just met but feel really safe with.

These moments and many, many more like these fulfill my travels. These are the moments that I will remember along with the LARGE ones. They aren’t all HUGE stories of romance and scandal, rather quiet exploration that is LOUD to me. In the end the BIGNESS is in the small, and that makes me happy.

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Moments On The Road

I just read my dear friends’ blog post Goodbye to All That. She is famous in the WordPress community and I always watch in awe as her words and photographs reach so many people. Every once in a while we would meet in DC or NY. She would come by bouncing with disheveled hair, headphones in, and a recommendation of what we should cook or which restaurant we should go to. Then we would sit for hours, way after the food and drinks have been finished, and attempt to describe ourselves with our wishes, desires, observations; I like to think we said almost everything. We would come up with brilliant phrases that we didn’t write down and would then forget because we just kept going and going. No phrase could answer our questions, our words would be lucky if they flirted onto any part of it. I think it was difficult for us because we are hyper-aware that these anxieties we feel do not compare with poverty, famine, poor water supplies, and disease that many people face. Our problems come from a society we view as numb. I think I can say for both of us, we were looking for a way to feel again.

I am in Brussels now, I came here to visit a friend; and it hasn’t been the way I thought it would be, the way I wanted it to be.  At first I was really at odds with the situation. Partly because I miss the farm, I am missing the woods I could disappear into and find my reflection. But the longer I stay here the easier it is for me to enjoy the way it is rather than the way I wanted it to be.

Traveling isn’t a magic potion. It doesn’t automatically make you happier; rather it offers you the tools to better choose for yourself.  There are beautiful things to see, different food to try, here in Brussels amazing beer, and the people. I think travel allows you to shed a layer of yourself. It is not that you so easily find yourself, as it goes; but for me it is that I seem to remain in a sponge- like form. I am open to everything and anything that comes into my company and that expands the definition of who I am. I have had doubts, anxieties, worries over my choices, an annoying trait I’m trying to get rid of, been frustrated, and disappointed so far on this trip. But regardless of each of those emotions at the end of the day I’m happy. This is the only thing I wanted to do, this is the only place I want to be. And I am feeling all of it.

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Things Unseen

So right now I am sitting in a student dorm in Edinburgh, with this lovely boy I met on the plane ride here from Dublin. This week has been full of surprising twists. So backing up to Saturday, the plan of this week was to be in Edinburgh for one day and then go to the Highlands for the week. But as soon as I arrived in Edinburgh I got an email from my mind my house host saying she is in the hospital from an asthma attack and she isn’t sure when she will be out. So I immediately begin wracking my brain for a second option my couch surfing host welcomes me to stay the rest of the week and I plan to go to Glasgow for the weekend to fill the rest of the time. I take this unexpected twist as an equally great a path to travel and spend time walking around the city and all its lovely coffee shops and windy roads.

Yesterday I found I got into the University of Edinburgh! I am so happy about it, I love this city and I being here feels right to me. Earlier today I met with the director of my program and it went great and I left and got lunch with my new friend and just felt the feeling of things being alright. We go to the library so I can attempt to blog, blogging is literally and pathetically on my to-do list every day.

I open up my Facebook to find that the girl that hosted me last month in Ireland via couch surfing had passed away. Her brother sent me a super simple message saying there was an accident and she is no longer with us and wishing me well. That was it. I had a tangerine half in my mouth and I stopped mid –chew and my friend stared at me asking what was wrong and I didn’t know what to say or how to react I just kept re-reading the message trying to figure out what to do with the tangerine in my mouth and saying I’m sorry and stuttering and I finally said it out loud and I couldn’t believe it even as I said it. I immediately go to call the girl I had couch-surfed with and we sat together on Gmail not knowing what to say and not understanding what we read.

I stayed at her house just two nights one weekend and then one night randomly the next weekend. I had just texted her on New Years Eve. I hardly knew her, but I know her, we spent time together and that means something. And now she is gone.

I haven’t experienced much death in my life, and I know that will change, death will be a part of my life as it is a part of everyone’s. This introduction was just odd. It touched upon my choices; to travel, and couch surf, and to enter into all of these people’s lives even if only for a moment. It isn’t that the more I gain the more I can lose but rather that lost can be so easily found among everything. The wider my net is cast the more I bring into me, good or bad.

So now I am sitting here in this dorm, a YouTube mix is droning in the background, my new friend is making diner and I am writing this seeking the best medium for me to work my way through this. Thinking of her brother and her family and then all the inconsequential things of my life… Another person is about to arrive and I’ll just keep moving, casting my net, and dealing with all the things that stick.

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The Waste In Our Lives

In my experience living in New York garbage is as abundant as anything else; trains, delis on the corners, or the food trucks that line the streets. We don’t just buy food but we accumulate trash. Things we don’t try to use are left for the homeless person or the sanitation man or for no one, so our sidewalks are as much concrete as they are trash.

I’ve always recognized that New York is a dirty city but I never really thought about what all the trash meant. I never thought the trash really meant anything, I mean to an extent I stopped seeing trash. The trash is the train, the deli, and the sidewalk; the things that are just there, well fingers crossed the train comes before I pee my pants.

Here on the west coast of Ireland there isn’t garbage; there is only compost. I mean everything is re-used in some way. The metals, plastics, and papers are recycled in the regular way. All the food we don’t eat is given to the chickens, what they don’t eat is then put in a vegetable bed to fertilize the soil. The egg shells are dried and then smashed up and given back to chickens (makes stronger egg shells). The water that we boil eggs in has minerals that are good for plants so that goes into watering. Animal fat we don’t eat is given to Jess, the best Dalmatian in the world. If you kill a chicken (still haven’t sorted that out in my mind) the feathers can make dream catchers. Then most of it can be eaten. Then when you have the carcass you boil it to make broth. All animal poop is good poop. I just spent the morning shoveling urine and poop sodden hay to wheel up to the vegetable beds. Jars and tins are saved for the making of jams and the drying of tea. Then at another farm up the road we picked up donkey poop with our gloved hands and shoved it in bags for the compost. The same farm has a compost toilet. A little medley of animal and human poop is arriving at a garden bed near you very soon

Everything has a reason. The idea of discarding mindlessly, isn’t here. It can be burned, re-used, or reconstituted. The girl I’m wwoofing with eats everything that drops on the floors, she usually beats the dog to it. The truth is I work, play, in the dirt, animal poop, every day and I feel cleaner then when I ride the subway.

The detachment from things in the city, doesn’t exist here. In NY most things are foreign. Wraps, salads, or pizza slices are bought on the go. Meals and snack are bought frequently away from your home in small disposable packaging. Therein lies the ingredients for convenience and space. We buy nice things from nice stores that are functioned to be kept. I think in cities there is also this fear of dirt. Everything and anything can make you sick. Perhaps it is fear that prevents us from making anything ours, it is easier to keep the foreign substance out. To only keep the things with clean white corners, or the crystal clear glass of mason jars.

Here everything is made intimate. If there is a foreign honey or peanut butter jar. It is cleaned and packed away in a wooden box where it is sterilized twice and used to store jam with new hand written labels. All foreign is turned intimate. The poop from the toilet becomes synonymous with the poop of your dog and it all goes into making your flower beds, and in some cases vegetables, more plentiful and rich. There is no garbage here, perhaps because there is no fear. Nothing is seen as dirty and tossed aside before it can touch your shirt. Things are cared for.

I guess the concept of eating something covered with a little dirt from a rain forest rather than the invisible dirt from a subway floor isn’t new. But the idea of eliminating garbage from our lives, is something to think about. Anyway my three weeks here have already taught me to be less afraid of dirt. Something is dirty and kept foreign when you don’t see it as a part of you. Living here helps me to see how everything has a part in me.