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Friday Feature: Time to Work the Earth

Micaceous Seed Pot Side View

We have been blessed with a remarkable number of bird species here this spring — in most cases, not just a bird or two, but seemingly the whole clan. We get a fairly wide variety year-round, but both their kind and their numbers tend to be fairly predictable.

Not this year.

This year, we’ve had whole flocks of grosbeaks for an extended period. The scrub jays arrived early and in force, and have seemingly made their home here for the season. Ducks fly over with some regularity, although the drought has decreed an almost-constantly dry pond, and so they have stopped here only once or twice. the hummingbirds are here, as are the butterflies, the dragonflies, and even a few bees already.

Wings and I were discussing it only last night — how odd it seems, in time of drought, that wildlife should be flourishing here. Then again, perhaps that’s precisely the reason: Through some combination of long-distance communication and ancestral memory, perhaps they know that they can find sanctuary here — food, water, safety.

The current state of our climate does not bode well for the seeds, though, much less the flowers. Our gardens remain a question mark: all hope at the moment; nothing more. But a peek at the extended forecast holds out the tantalizing prospect of small amounts of rain over the next two weeks.

Here, that could be enough.

This drought is extreme, but the people of this place are nevertheless accustomed to the difficulties that attend desert agriculture. Over the last millennium, they’ve both reduced it to a science and elevated it to an art, and many, if not most, families will still plant this year, us included. Some plants and crops will do well in spite of, or even because of, the dry conditions; others will struggle but succeed in at least small numbers; still others will likely not make it at all. And it’s not always the ones you expect.

Some have already begun planting; we are planning to do likewise next week. For now, it’s time to bring the seeds out of storage and begin the process of sorting, selecting those most likely to thrive and produce, at a minimum, enough additional seeds to expand next year’s options. And in this place, that means bringing out the seed pots, many of them much like today’s featured work. From its description in the Other Artists:  Pottery gallery here on the site:

Micaceous Seed Pot Top View

Keep your seeds safe and dry in this perfectly-shaped little seed pot by Benito Romero (Taos Pueblo). Great for storage in the cold months, and useful for dispensing seeds during planting season. Made of the Pueblo’s local micaceous clay; 3″ high by 3.5″ across at widest point (dimensions approximate). Top view shown below.

Micaceous clay
$65 + shipping, handling, and insurance

The has been a week of hard labor, working metal, working earth, converting the energy of the elements, via dust and sweat and honest fatigue, into the accoutrements of the season. Structures require repair, fences need mending, the earth needs turning and tilling. In their own way, all of these tasks are a planting of seeds, a cultivation of sorts. They prepare us for the seasons to come, those of planting and nurturing and eventual harvest.

It’s time to take the tools out of storage, pick and shovel, rake and hoe; time to take the seeds out of storage, too. Because drought notwithstanding, there is much to do for our own survival.

It’s time to work the earth.

~ Aji








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