Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Back from Torrey

We had a great time in Torrey. We hiked along Sand Creek. We sat on the deck and got sun burned. We drank wine. It was different than usual because Rick's kid, who is 24 or something ridiculously young, and his girlfriend, who is even younger, and their daughter, 3 months older than Max, were there. But it was still relaxing and they liked what I cooked and Kathryn, the girlfriend, came and sat across the bar from me while I cooked which I love more than anything. I need the wall in my kitchen here to come down, if only so I can invite people over to sit across from me.

I mostly cooked. I made a good portobello. The recipe's at that Poet's Pages and Vowel's blog. I like the title of the blog but the URL is dinner with NVP which I also like.

We came back and I tried to wrap my head around this food book that is trying to kill me. Let me tell you what I'm trying to do and then you can fix it. I'm weaving together my personal story about fertility, pioneerism, my grandmother's personal history and hometown, food, and sustainability.
Here are the working titles:
  • Expectations
  • In Season
  • How I got my kid to eat 9 colors of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Making it Palatable
  • Intervention
  • Manipulations
  • You can grow anything anywhere although there are consequences
  • A Permanent Home

There's a real title but that's a secret.

I think one of the narrative threads is going to have to go. This makes me sad because I spent the last 9 months putting it in there. It is hurting me a lot. I think it's going to have to be the grandma/Evanston Wyoming sections. Ouch. We'll see.

I do think that I know where I'm going though. Today, I went to check out the charter school Puente de Hozho that Zoe didn't get lotteried into. I had heard Gillian Ferris Kohl on KNAU talk about local elementary schools building their own gardens. I emailed a teacher there and went to see for myself. I do believe this counts as my first real journalist experience. Robert Kelty, a fourth grade teacher, met with me after school. He took his large, janitor-like set of keys and led me out the back door. Behind and between the school's four buildings is a courtyard. Half of it was Ponderosa trees, like all things Flagstaff, but the other half was tiers of gray dirt. Robert told me the kids and he had spent weeks pulling out weeds and elm trees. They'd hired professionals to cut down some of the Ponderosas to let in enough light. All kinds a people had volunteered to help. Aaron Secakuku, the leader of Pathways, a group that helps at-risk Native American kids in after school programs, John Taylor, a local landscaper, and the Hopi tribe which let them come visit their farm in Hotevilla.
The first beds I saw Robert told me had just been redone. These were the kindergartner's beds, lined with small ponderosa logs. He said they were trying to do the three sisters but that they'd planted regular corn seeds instead of Hopi seeds and, not only was it inauthentic, the corn probably wouldn't make it. This garden is going to be a dry farmed one. Regular corn needs regular irrigation.
In another bed, they students had made strips of rocks. In between those rocks, they planted long rows of Hopi beans. Above that, beans and squash. Above that, an empty bed, reserved possibly for melons. And, above that, tomato plants covered in blue, pointy hats. They'll live like that for awhile. I asked how long. Robert said, until they get really big.
They're planning an herb garden and they have peach, cherry and apple trees. I said, surely they need water. He said, maybe. But maybe not too much. He pointed to the roof of one building. "We have a drip system that was donated. We'll put gutters there. And we're getting a rain barrel. Or, rather a rain tank."
I am a bit slow. I imagined the drip system being attached to the building's hosebib like my drip hose at home. But no. They'll connect to to the rain tank. They'll water the garden with the rain they collected. An entirely do-it-yourself, with the help of the Hopi, the landscaper, Aaron Secakuku, and a few hundred elementary school students.
So far, there wasn't much to see but sticks stuck in the ground to encourage the beans to grow up and around them and the plastic hats to keep the tomatoes warm. The ground was so dry and gray-dirt looking. I don't know that if I were a seed if I could make it there. Robert Kelty says the Hopi said not to overwater the beans. They like drought. He admits the fruit trees might have a hard time. Sure, the whole garden might not work. But it might. I asked if I could come back and peak in the summer even though no one would be there. He said, sure and to come back in the fall too. The whole place could be covered in green.

In other good news, while I was there, the principal said some of the incoming kindergartners parents were waffling. Maybe there would be a spot for Zoe. It's an intense place. Only 2.5 hours of instruction in English. The rest in Spanish or Navajo. Dude. That's hardcore.


Lisa B. said...

This is all one big wow. I want to read your book. I hope you will give us updates on the garden. Are you allowed to take pictures? I need to find out about that Hopi corn and beans. And--and this is the big drama--will Z be admitted to the hardcore kindergarten? I submit to you, though, that "hardcore" may not be the adjective of choice to describe your child's kindergarten. Think it over.

Nik said...

Lisa B. You're right. Even the teacher I talked to wonder if he'd send his own kids there. We'll see.

Nik said...

Meta-ad-speak: This advertisement about Food Everlasting, Organic Food for $300 for a year helps my research. How serendipitous capitalism is.

Molly said...

Re: food memoir - reminiscent of Like Water for Chocolate, no? But in a good way and not a derivative one.

I can't believe you're at the kindergarten stage. I agree with Lisa B. I think Z deserves a softcore kindergarten experience.

Dr. Write said...

I agree with the big WOW! So busy. I had a dream last night that I was in NYC and you were in NYC and we just happened to run into one another on the street and you were rollerblading. It was nice to see you, even if only in dreamland.

Misty said...

lovelovelove hearing your voice in these blog entries! will email you soon.

Some people like challenges - Zoe may be one of them. We're thinking about language immersion too. Also, you've probably raised a kid who is pretty verbally adept - she may thrive in that environment. Plus, you'd get to go to Spain and Mexico and other places - you'd have to! for Zoe's education!

Adam Million said...

I'm thinking "Although There Are Consequences" would be an interesting title for the collection. I don't know how you feel about subtitles, but that could provide a chance for clarifying, if needed. Best of luck on it. I'll be looking forward to reading it when finished.