Tuesday, August 5, 2008

morning musings

strange hour to be awake; i woke up at 2am and haven't been able to sleep since. its humid (not unbearable though) and i am getting chewed up by mosquitoes. i can just feel the malaria running through my veins (thank God and the government for prophylaxis!)

somewhat out of the early-morning-hours boredom, i decided to i eat my first cucumber. i harvested it a few days ago -- entirely by accident. i was pruning the wild tangle that has become my cucumber plants when i cut a "doom" ("doom" means either "child" or "the fruit of a tree/plant" in wolof) off. it was just about ready so i had it sitting in my room a for while as i contemplated what to do with it.

i mean, yes, EAT it, but how? very limited resources to do anything with the cucumber in the village -- salt, olive oil, vinegar. or did i want to wait until kaolack and put it in a salad or even try something creative with it? or, give it away? share it with others? who could have thought that a single plump cucumber could cause me to over-think like this.

finally it was just time to do it and eat it -- plain as it was with no additives (5:14AM -- i hear jackals hunting!!) or anything. i don't think i've ever just eaten a cucumber singularly, just as it is, by itself. i've somehow magically managed to grow HUGE cucumbers that are twice the size of the ones i get at the market for about 100-250CFA. these cucumbers are THICK and deeply soaked in green and could easily fetch 350-400CFA). for the first time, i realized that cucumbers are much like melons -- more fruit than vegetable. my god, being raied with produce aisles has really led me to some major ignorance about food and sustenance.

i grabbed a knife and sunk in -- that in itself was an experience. the cucumber was at its very freshest, the knife glided right through with just the right hint of resistance. i've never eaten a cucumber at such freshness (no in between time trapped in a crate or cardboard box). needless to say, it was delicious -- juicy and crisp and perfectly, well...cucumber.

now my head is churning with ideas on what to do with all of this upcoming cucumber (there is going to be a shit ton -- there are LOADS of flowers and developing cucumbers) from pickling to soaking in a mix of citrus and vinegar (something i learned from karim, my moroccan-store owner friend who speaks impeccable English) to combining with soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil (precious import from dakar) and garlic to a cold soup to a variation of tea time cucumber sandwiches (village bread, sheep cheese, and cucumber slices). i have a feeling i'm going to have a lot of fun with the cucumbers but by the end of all of this -- will be sick of them.

i know its ridiculous to be so thrilled about growing a vegetable but i've never been a complete part of a food cycle -- i've never had to raise my food before -- and now that i'm doing so, i'm completely with the idea.

i'm starting to feel like working in agriculture (plus trees) -- something that i've never even been close to doing before aside from gardening flowers and helping mom maintain the yard -- is changing my interests. i am increasingly interested in...the "growing of things." i want to grow more vegetables, raise my own chickens for eggs and meat, hell, maybe i even want to go milk a cow. this, coupled with my increasing interest is cooking is making me think that maybe...maybe...i don't want to spend my life in what i thought i wanted to spend my life in.

social science was once really interesting to me -- i could read voraciously about studies and policy and history but now that my life has become so much more about activity opposed to work i'm starting to think that maybe social science is something that should be an interest and not a career choice. where policy or social work or law or study was once what i thought would be my way of living a purposeful life, i think i am now interested in seeing how i can impact the world through more creative avenues -- writing? food? farming? maybe i am interested in nutrition? now that i am in the field and get to wake up to the great outdoors everyday, i don't know how much i want to return to a world of desks and world schedules.

i am definitely reevaluating my plans and goals and career ambitions.

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