Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How the beans grow

Visiting Sonia and her family a few days ago, I noticed that the milpa next to their house had changed dramatically. Half the corn had been harvested, and the rest was doblado, turned over so that the remaining ears of corn can dry on the stalk (this happens in the midst of the rainy season, and I can't understand why the corn dries rather than mildews, but the Salvadorans and their forebears have been at this for hundreds of generations, and they know). In between the drying stalks, the recently planted bean vines were popping out of the earth. In a few more weeks it'll be time for the bean harvest, for the vines to be uprooted and dried and threshed so that the small, beautiful red silk beans can emerge. And those beans, in their growing, will have fixed nitrogen in the soil for next year's corn crop. It's a beautiful and valuable cycle.

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