In a moment of absolute clarity, I can say that our time is devoted to working for the earth, and working from the heart. It has not been easy work, but our collective drive in the community of volunteers has allowed growth in new dimensions. For me, I feel stirrings in the place behind my lungs and heart, and under the shoulder blades where fear and sadness reside. There is an expansion here.
In the mornings I have planted trees along the canal, we start by creating a mound of dirt with a pick axe to break up the soil, which is thin above the bedrock. For centuries this land was rich and fertile, the soil was feet above where we now stand. Now the rains pull the soil into the ocean tides.
As I collect leaves for mulch I walk under the green glowing shade of a small banana tree, one of very few. I imagin myself as a young girl, years from now, walking under the shade of the many trees we are planting today, paving her own path and letting her mind wander freely, knowing with confidence where her next meal will come from.
After we build the mound beds for the young saplings, we dig a mote around it, to collect water. Then, we wet the soil and transplant the seedling Mayan Nut trees, one by one. We cover the mounds and motes with mulch made of broken up, dried brown leaves from mango trees, and cover that with clothing that litters the streets. So many clothes are donated to Haiti that it has no where to go, and creates more waste. Which in its abundance works out well for us as permaculture-ists because, when placed over the mulch around young trees, the clothes protect the nourishing water from evaporating in the scorching sunlight.
As we work I can smell the fumes of burning plastic and motoconcho exhaust. There is no educational infrastructure in impoverished places that teaches the people environmental ways of waste management. It is all too common here to taste the toxic fumes in the morning. I did not expect to find so much pollution in the country-side.
Where we live is on the edge on the boukara, which translates as "wasteland". Here, in the arid desert, is a strangely beautiful landscape of cactus and bedrock. Further out into the hills are caves that I have yet to explore.
I have cared for small growing trees in the dirt backyards of families, sometimes where community wells are shared. I took up the well-bucket rope from Nixon and learned the meditative practice of fishing for well water, which has proven to be a meditative experience: You unravel the cord carefully until the bucket touches the floor of the water's surface. Admire the ripples. Then pull back the rope until the bucket touches one side of the well's inner-circle, whip it forward by the cord and let it slack. mindfully watch the bucket tilt on its side, and fill with water until it sinks below the surface. It all lasts about the same time it takes for a few deep breaths. Once the bucket's submerged you yank the cord back up, raveling it in a circle around your forearm and pour the fresh well water into a bucket to give to the sapling trees nearby.
Our work here is exploratory: into the community, into nature, and into ourselves.