Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Full Circle

I am a memory junkie. On long bus rides (of which there have been many, as of late), in line at DAS (Colombia's Kafka-esque cross between the CIA and the DMV), or during a lazy afternoon in the Botanical Gardens, I can always count on my memory to entertain me. Like easing into a warm bath, I slowly lower myself into some pleasant past event and wallow in my own private nostalgia-fest. It passes the time quite pleasantly where there is nothing else to do.

I have heard that there is a specific hormone that a woman's body produces after childbirth, which dulls the memory of pain. Apparently, you remember that you were in unholy pain, but you can't remember precisely how it felt. The explains why we are not all only children, I suppose.

Recently, as I was reflecting on this bit of trivia, it occurred to me that the memory of a physical sensation, good or bad, is always at best (or worst) a shade of the actual experience. So while the worst experiences hopefully lose the sharpness of their edges, the good ones gradually become less clear, less intense. The memory of your first love, while quite likely strong enough to bring a smile to your face, doesn't pack the same earth-shaking punch as the actual encounter. You don't need to be flush with hormones for a memory to fade.

Last week I left Colombia and returned to Atlanta. In a frantic few days of packing and visiting, I prepared myself for my migration North, to Caretaker Farm. But before I could leave, I had to revisit Serenbe: to put my hands in the dirt and witness the outline of the season as it comes into focus. It was the kind of true blue dream of sky day that is almost holy in its vividness. I walked between the tables in the greenhouse naming the trays and marveling at the transformation of last years' nervousness into familiarity. I couldn't help but run from place to place, as the whole farm seemed to merit a joyful gallop rather than a sedate field walk. And as I ran pell-mell past the new asparagus beds and the young pear trees, I thought to myself: this is the joy that memory can never fully depict.

I spent the brief hour that I had harvesting spinach, cutting the leafy bunches just beneath the surface of the soil and then stripping away any bad leaves. It was my first task at Serenbe, just over one year ago. I remembered dragging the bin behind me and basking in the spring sunshine. But I didn't spend long in that memory, as I was too busy savoring the present.

N.B.: I still have a lot to say about Colombia...stay tuned over the next week or two for dispatches about the Coffee Region of Colombia, where, I am happy to report, there is a great deal of wonderful organic growing going on.

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