I have made my way back from the southern reaches of North America (yes, in case you were wondering as I was, the North American continent does stretch all the way to the southern boarder of Panama). Thrust back into the cold snows of the ever lingering Midwest winters from the volcano lined shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in a single day was more than just culture shock. Having been back for several days now, any glimpse of the monochromatic gray skies, reflecting the snow clad earth of a similar hue, does little to aid me in conjuring up any recollection of the unbelievable blue of the Caribbean coastline or the deep green of the jungle covered mountains of the Guatemalan highlands let alone the festively painted chicken buses which swerve around the small roads of same mountains maintaining a centrifugal force that could cause one to almost lose the black beans, fried plantain and hand-made tortillas that made up the midday meal.
Conversely, few things in my travels served to remind me of my own origins. Life in an ecosystem that that never dies and renews itself, but rather sustains itself is very different. I found myself wondering if and when leaves ever fall from trees in the jungle. Were these some of the same leaves that photosynthesized when the Spanish encountered this land? Most likely not. The leaves then were in some perpetual slow shed and growth cycle. It served as a stark contrast to an ecological system based strongly in the changing of the seasons.
In a place where coconuts continuously fall from the trees and bananas ripen on a daily basis, what a different view of food there must be than in a place where a years worth of work goes into a two month harvest of an apple crop pressed upon on one end by the cruel summer heat and the other by killing frosts and freezes. I found myself again reminded of perpetual work that goes into an apple crop as I made my way home through the winding ridge road of the land were I grew up. I passed workers among the trees in the late February afternoon at the end of a long row of trees under which lay the unwanted branches, clipped from the trees had left behind. Winter pruning was in full swing.
Glad to be back, more soon!