I bought her from a blind sculptor in Oaxaca. I’d taken a colectivo out to one of the valley towns to visit a weekday market and ended up in the local museum. Two ladies, nearly lifesize, smooth and intricate and beautiful, stood guard on the stairs. A docent told me they were made my a local sculptor before he lost his sight and gave me directions to his house.
I remember blinding sun and dusty streets but nothing else of the town. The sculptors house was dark; in the bright yard beyond stood an astonishing crowd of terra cotta figures. They were more roughly made than the ladies at the museum but beautiful still. Every woman had a lunar at the center of her forehead. Para mi esposa, he told me. I spent a long time walking around the yard, and bought a sculpture of a woman dressed in calla lilies without haggling. She was small enough to carry home to the city in my arms.
I had rented a shared room in the house of a Mexican-Columbian couple. It was just big enough for two twin beds with a narrow aisle in between and our clothes stacked on the floor. The rent was outrageous, or at least seemed so to me, coming from Bellingham where I’d paid half as much for a large room of my own, but our landlords were kind and generous and we lived within an easy walk of the city center. There was a little daily market just up the hill where I bought masa, dry beans, cheese, and bright fruits trucked down from the industrial farms in the north. Every morning I ate papaya with popped amaranth for breakfast. Every night I fell asleep to the chorus of dogs barking on the rooftops.
I had come to Oaxaca with three free months and no plans. Whenever I could I went traveling with a couple who taught biointensive gardening up in the Sierra Norte in villages where little was grown but maize and the soil eroded in deep furrows down the slopes of the steep, unterraced milpas. Or I traveled with a couple who ran an arts collective that sent pottery from Oaxaca to customers and galleries in Mexico City, visiting the women who carried on the crafts of their villages while their husbands, brothers, sons, went north for work. The rest of the time I walked the city, took grammar lessons from a tutor who was horrified by my farm Spanglish, and visited the surrounding towns for their markets and art.
I bought too much art. Too much pottery, especially. But I managed to pack it all, wrapped in clothes and newspaper, into a large suitcase that I bought on a street corner. All but my calla lily lady. Her I planned to carry on my flights back to the U.S. Only, when I got to the airport I discovered she was considered a potential weapon and had to be checked. No room in the suitcase. No time to find another before my flight. I had to leave her, wrapped only in bubble wrap and tape. Ten cuidado, porfa, I begged the baggage handlers. And maybe they were, but not careful enough. She arrived neck broken, braids broken, lilies broken. I glued what parts I could back together. I tried standing her inside, but the sight of cracks and missing pieces made me sad, so I took her to the garden. When I moved, she came too, waiting patiently while we turned sod, set the fence, and planted seeds. When the garden was ready, I found her a place, back in the perennials and flowers. She stands there still, my lady of the garden, broken and beautiful, with calendula and nasturtiums at her feet, the fennel at her back, and the sunflowers and amaranth standing tall above her.
TODAY AT MARKET and NEXT WEEK FOR MARKET PREORDER
10am – 2pm, 1100 Railroad Ave
Red Wheat ($7.50 / 750g)
Elwha River Spelt ($8 / 800g) - Elwha River spelt is a new variety released by WSU breeders in 2014 (the year the dam came down) under the Open Source Seed Initiative. It was bred for organic, dryland (no irrigation), low input (no soil amendment) conditions. I'm excited to be using a grain so in line with my food system values, and hope that with practice I'll be able to bake you a truly spectacular dinkelbrot.
Mountain Rye ($7.50 / 800)
Vollkornbrot ($8 / 800)
Seedy Buckwheat ($8 / 420g)
Gingersnap Cookies ($5 / 2)
Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies ($5 / 2)
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies ($5 / 2)
Cornmeal Snack Cake with Apricots ($5)
Cornmeal Snack Cake with Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam ($5)
Brown Butter Shortbread ($9 / half dz)
NEXT WEDNESDAY PREORDER & PICKUP
Self-serve pickups in Birchwood, Columbia, Lettered Streets, South Hill, and Fairhaven.
Address and directions with your pickup reminder email Wednesday morning.
Order by Sunday night.
Toast: ROSEMARY & CORNMEAL
Sweets: BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE COOKIES & CHOCOLATE CHIP HAZELNUT COOKIES