Palm Sunday on the mountain in the highlands of Boquete, Panama, listening to chorale singing composed by J.S. Bach on WQXR out of New York City. I LOVE my NPR! Outside, the soft breezes of this changing season promise rain later in the afternoon. I’m so glad. It’s been a thirsty three months. The baby chickens are happily sunning in a corner of the coop, while the Big Black Bitch clucks angrily outside. (She earned her moniker when she killed two babies from another mother). Charlie the Dog is yapping down by the pond. A blue morpho lit on the snowy coffee blooms by the terrace. I’ve spent way too much time on Face Book today, under the guise of connecting, networking and marketing. Not sure why I do that. At any rate, it’s a lovely day on the farm.
So, what’s going on?
Well, it’s been really, really busy. High tourist season means lots of visitors to Finca Luz to walk the Medicine Way Trail to learn about medicinal plants. We’ve met doctors, botanists, Chinese herbal practitioners, large scale agri-farmers, students, backpackers, teachers…all interesting and all a pleasure. The Tuesday Market has been a weekly source of amusement, revenue and new faces. (Check out this short video for a giggle. http://youtu.be/zy72vF763D8).
Lots of ongoing research for Cloud Forest Botanicals products—I’m working on a new pain relief salve and it just isn’t quite ready to test drive, yet, and Dianne is digging deep to find remedies for thyroid related issues. We spend time servicing existing clients (more every week) and promoting to future customers. We are hoping for our first significant international order next week. Busy. We love our jobs!
Life has its dramas. There are the daily chicken dramas. Fighting hens, bullying roosters, neurotic adolescents, happy growing hens-to-be and a bevy of new little ones. We love them and like to think they love us, but really, it’s all about the food. It is amazing how quickly they learn that at 4:30 every afternoon they can come begging to the kitchen door and one or other of the Food Giants will come out and toss them handfuls of corn. They feel entitled to it and scrap and fight and complain if they don’t feel they are getting their fair share. A lot like some people and most politicians.
Then there’s the coffee fungus, La Roya, which is threatening coffee fields throughout Central America and decimating the crop for 2013. It has been declared a national emergency in Guatemala and Costa Rica and Panama will follow shortly. Finca Luz is surrounded by coffee fields that are neglected and I watch daily as the leaves on those neighboring plants shrivel and drop.
I am very irritated with fair weather gringo coffee growers who come here, think growing coffee is a romantic hobby and then don’t follow through with good stewardship. They are irresponsible. The wind spreads the air borne fungus onto my trees and others. May they choke on their Starbucks latte. If they don’t want to do the work, then cut the coffee down and plant blackberries that can be ignored.
Those of us who are serious about this coffee thing–whether large or boutique farmers– are vigilantly treating to both prevent and control in accordance with recommendations from the local MIDA (agricultural extension) office. So far so good. Now the rains have come and the spread will slow. I think I will plant another 1,000 trees this year to replace my oldsters and get a leg up on a shrinking market.
I’m looking for an alternative crop to plant in one area of the farm that gets lots of heat during summer and rain during winter and is difficult to reach for irrigation. Ideas? I’ve considered rhubarb, tea, chili peppers. Needs to be a high end product to be competitive, hardy to thrive in challenging conditions, and relatively low maintenance. Hmmm. Blackberries?
I received a not-so 5 star review of Risking Everything: Coming Out in Coffee Land by a Kiwi writer for a New Zealand travel blog. She loved the story and wants to come visit us. But…she called my writing ‘turgid.’ Ouch. That stings. But, perhaps it’s true that any publicity is good publicity? Still. Turgid? I’ll have to consult my buddy Webster about that.
The manuscript for my new novel is proceeding, in fits and starts to be sure, but I’m almost 2/3 of the way through the first draft. Working towards climax and denouement. Chasing Tropical Ice. Watch for it…sometime next year.
I’m casting about for some significant thread of thought to follow here. Can you tell? I’m a bit all over the place. What I feel, however, is a bone deep soul contentment. I’m not dwelling on the past. I’m not anticipating the future. I’m very much in the moment, today. I’m here, now, mindful of how much I am grateful for, how blessed I am. I’m healthy. I’m prosperous by the standards of most of the world’s population. I’m interested in and challenged by my work. I’m in love, still. I am loved, still.
Perhaps that is significant enough for this Palm Sunday. “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart.
What are you grateful for? To whom? Do the people you care about know that you are grateful for what they have brought to your life?
I say, now, to all, ‘Thank you!”