16th June, 2005 // USA
the turning year
From rivers and trees five
With the turning year came the long expected rains. The village quieted as people stayed dry close to home. by the third day, the mood had shifted. villagers were silly with happiness as if snow had been falling instead of the warm, tropical rain. in one short night the river rose over five feet, swamping our boat. Walking around the village, people greeted us with "U si wan wonder, no?" do you see the miracle?
We were beginning to know the shape and sinews of the river from our little canoe. learning how to steer around the sand bar & where to find good rocks for washing. we began to know just how far out we had to paddle to avoid the fallen tree & all its limbs. we were learning other stories too. each night on the radio people talked about the last time the water had been so low: where their boats had gotten stuck, which rocks proved impassable. we'll have to learn the river again; all our landmarks are gone. now there's only an expanse of water. Saramakans call it " di gaan lio," the big river. it pushes and pulls at our boat. we have to pay attention to the water now, its own personality and voice.
When the rains stop, children & birds sing & sing. women come out with arms full of half-dried laundry & hand it on the clothesline, always keeping an eye on the dark clouds north and east of the river. after the rain we work in our garden. the hard & dry clay has softened to a thick diggable muck that's good for the rice. in the back of the house we have beans and corn and squash, those three noble sisters. okra's next to the cook house and there's watermelon down in the hollow.
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