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Sam-I-Am Violin on the streets, fundamentalist Judaism, planting organic vegetables, and the like.

The Slow Life in Catalunya (Part Deux)

SPAIN | Tuesday, 27 May 2008 | Views [1008] | Comments [2]

Bienvenidos a la fiesta de Samuel.

Bienvenidos a la fiesta de Samuel.

I think my parents eat faster than me, but at the dinner table it never seems to be an issue. Here, though, I am consistently the only person left at the dinner table for 25 minutes on average. More on the food front: I am referred to as 'El Rey de la Ensalada', and expected to make the salad every day at lunchtime.  Also I got plans to bring some Jewish cuisine into a Catalan household via potato latkes this week, my last one on the farm.

(It's not really a farm, but a home with four planting fields oddly spaced in the surrounding area).

It has rained for parts of almost every day since I've been here, which I suppose is a little disappointing because I don't get to do as much of the farming 'ideal' as I hoped. Though I consider myself slightly lucky also, because on one recent sunny day, I did two shifts of pulling 'hierba' manually with a weeding tool, and it is absolutely backbreaking. I think I knew this before, but I've never set to weeding in an Olympic-size field of crops. Perhaps you get used to it, because, predictably, Joan light-heartedly told me during one break that 'hombre, this is the warmup.' Even Grandma was, I estimate, three times faster than me when she came out in the late afternoon for a spell of weeding. I am intimidated to speak to her because I am scared she will not have patience for my Spanish, but we spoke a little as we walked back after rain prematurely ended our work, and she says her husband, Joan's father, also worked these fields, and Joan's grandfather as well.

Wow I could go take this entry in so many directions right now. Family history, Catalan culture, pesticides, daily work regimen. Actually, I think I will cover them all, breifly as I can:

1) Family history. It's amazing that Joan's family has been in this area, and farming the same fields, for so many years. It must really bind you to the land, and must also make for a different relationship to one's country. I keep meeting Europeans and I keep asking them how long their families have been in this country or that country. And almost always, the answer is, "forever." And that is crazy. The U.S. isn't like that, and though I think you learn about it early on in history class, I didn't really get it until I met all these Irish and Italian and Catalan folk who have always been in Ireland, Italy, and Catalunya.

2) Catalan culture. Analagous to the way I feel about having chosen Brown University, I feel that, though I did choose to work on a farm in Catalunya, and even got excited about it, I did not really understand why it was going to be such a good choice. Catalunya has its own language, its own cuisine, its own soccer team, its own television station. It is not just one of the many regions of Spain. I love geography, I love history, I love languages. And I didn't know anything about this place before I got here. It's pretty awesome, and I can't believe how much of it I am not going to get to see.

3) When Joan and I were taking that break (lying in wild-growing barley on the edge of his field) from weeding, he casually gesticulated the action of pouring pesticide on the crops and said, "well, we could do it like this, and save ourselves a lot of work." Once again, first-hand experience leads me to a new level of understanding, in this case why pesticide dominates aggriculture and is so difficult to dislodge.

and 4) Daily work regimen. Aside from pulling weeds (manually and with a lawnmower-type machine as well), I have broken pounds of pounds of walnut and almond shells, and I am rather adept at taking apart and putting back together tractors and other farming equipment. I've planted onions and lettuce, and picking peapods and broad beans is in the cards, which I believe means that by the end of this stint I will have both reaped and sowed.

See you soon Mom and Dad.

Tags: culture, farming, food, history, work

Comments

1

From the Old City to Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, now Espana...my friend, you are doing life as it should be done. Inspiring. Much remains. Hope to see you soon! Love, Shirley

  Shirley Jun 7, 2008 11:01 AM

2

hi sam you are forget me but i miss you very much you again visit india berhampur orissa imost welcome you your brother

  sunil kumar sahu Jul 8, 2011 2:50 PM

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