When the Rain Comes They Run and Hide their Heads
… I remember once returning from weeding in the orchard, my hands covered with black dirt. “Mom,” I said, “look how dirty!” I was a kid, see, and this is how kids talk. She looked at me with brown un-sleeping eyes and said: “Mud is not dirty.”
These days my daughter Neta and her second-grade peers are discussing the story of Noah and flood– in perfect timing with our tiny country’s own tiny flood. We’re expecting a very rainy week with lots of water descending from the heavens, mixing up heaven and earth, wet and dry, and muddying our field and boxes with lots of brown mud. The meaning of the word Tevet, the Hebrew month we bid farewell to this week, is “that which we immerse in” from the Accadian Tebitu. Pretty self-explanatory, wouldn’t you think?
We are therefore attempting to prepare ourselves accordingly, and picked Monday vegetables on Sunday and Wednesday vegetables on Tuesday to avoid the very stormy day. Harvesting in the rain is a slow, difficult task. It is hard to advance in the swampy mud, and the leafy bags fill up with water which can later cause the greens to rot. We try to avoid that, but we don’t always succeed. But Sunday and Tuesday were relatively dry here, so this time it actually worked.
The field is full of puddles, and we hope the abundant water in store will be absorbed in the earth and won’t wash away into our vegetable beds. In order to avoid this, we plough open the land with a chisel-plough, a long fork that stabs the earth to make deep notches into which the rain can permeate. In nature, the roots of trees and other plants with deep roots are used as natural “drain openers,” but in a field of annual plants like ours, we need to do this artificially.
In heavy earth, like Chubeza’s, the drainage is even more important. Our earth has a high percentage of clay, which is actually tiny grains which stick to each other when they come in contact with water, creating a sticky, impenetrable dough. This characteristic of our earth to retain water is excellent for agriculture, keeping water and nutrients within the earth and not easily washed out, like in sandy earth, for instance. But in a rainy winter, like this winter has started out to be, it could be a little too much. In the meantime we’re fine, and we hope it continues this way.
What is this rain descending from above, anyway? If you ask the Polynesians, they would tell you these are the tears of Rangi, the sky and the father of all things, mourning the separation from his wife, Papa, the earth. If you ask scientists, they will explain that vapor has condensed into tiny drops that join together to create greater drops. Once they become too heavy, they fall, due to gravity, collecting more drops on their way down. Contrary to all we know, the raindrop is not at all shaped like a drop… raindrops are either round or elliptic, sometimes oblate. They descend to the earth extremely rapidly, at over seven and a half meters per second, a surprising performance for such a little drop which could be as miniscule as only a few millimeters.
In our family, we have a tradition of extreme loyalty to the rain. When it falls, we do not run. We allow it to tickle our nape, to trickle down our ears. Even my little Talia has already learned to put out her hand and let the rain wet it, and that the best thing you can do is lift your face upwards, open your mouth wide, and lick those wet and cold raindrops. Or, you can opt to just sing in the rain.
May we have a wonderful rainy (hopefully snowy!) week. May it be saturating, full of vitality and the power of fulfillment and growth.
Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the wet Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN OUR WET BOXES THIS WEEK? (please excuse the “bonus” mud we’re providing…)
Monday: tatsoi / lettuce, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, tomatoes, kale / spinach, carrots, Dutch cucumbers, potatoes, fennel, leeks, parsley – small boxes only.
In the large box in addition: parsley root, radishes. kohlrabi / eggplants, cilantro
Wednesday: cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, celery or celeriac, parsley, cucumbers, fennel, kale or spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions – small boxes only.
In the large box in addition: broccoli, kohlrabi, daikon/turnips, leeks