A view of our activities on this precious earth
The Pig Man
I was out driving on an old dirt track, exploring, discovering new short-cuts and old ruins, when I came across the pig man.
The pig man walks his pigs through the cork oak forest. He lives with them. Eats his bread with them. Tall and gaunt, the clothes live on his body, black and brown. I pass and wave from the car. At first he doesn't react and I think I'm being snubbed, another bloody foreigner, when slowly he reaches for his worn-shiny cap and raises it from his worn-shiny head. He swings it round in an arc, an all-embracing wave. A beautiful, courtiuos movement from the dark ages, of chivalry and serfdom. I am honoured and humbled by his expansive grace,his acknowledgement of my passing. Then I am gone, the dust settles, the noise fades, and he is left with his pigs in the heat-beaten clearing.
Veggie burgers,or falafel,or hummus,etc.
The preparations begin around about November when I start to find Zé. Zé is a small, round septegenarian, who has a small round, shiny green tractor. He has no phone in his house and he lives alone, but he is surrounded by his family. So word gets round. He is found. I ask him if he can come and plough.
The months pass. I think that he has forgotton, when one day in spring, he comes over the horizon, silhouetted by the rising sun.
When the soil is ready I reach for my chosen implement, the enxada; a one-woman plough, a heavy hoe, designed in neolithic times, and adapted sometime in the iron-age, to be plunged, not pulled, through the tilth. I make a line twenty paces long. I grab the bucket full of dried chick peas, and cast them, three at a time, foot by foot along the line. The next line made covers the first, and so I continue until all the seeds are sewn.
Three months later they are drying on their stalks in the hot summer sun. I pull them from the earth. They rattle, the small pods containing one chick pea each. I lay them in a pile and begin to dance on them. Crunching and crushing the stalks, the leaves, the pods. The chick peas pop out and roll. Dancing on a floor of ball-bearings, I twist and turn and grind them out of their paper houses.
Now they are ready for the wind. I lift handfulls and drop them through my fingers and watch the chaff blow sideways as the chickpeas fall and bounce below. The wind comes in gusts and sighs. I wait for the next big sigh.
With chick peas now safely harvested I can prepare the meal.