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2/24/10 Adventures with Walnuts

My CBT village is down in the plains, so has a much wider variety of fruit-bearing trees than can survive in Berberville, my mountain aerie. While visiting, we of course had to visit the igran – the fields – and my little brother and sister took me to visit “our” fields. The littlest brother, who I remembered mostly as trailing after his bigger siblings with a finger in his mouth, is now a fearless adventurer, scrambling over rocks and up trees like a goat. (Yes, like a goat. Moroccan goats climb trees.)

I remembered the path – it’s really not hard, just walk towards the giant cliff, then scramble down a goat-path that drops a couple hundred feet in a ridiculously short distance, and voila! you’re in the river-irrigated fields. The valley here is very narrow, unlike the broader, possibly glacially-carved valley of Berberville, so no one wastes valley floor space with housing. Everyone lives on top of the cliffs, and leaves all the land near the river for crops. (In Berberville, the flatlands by the river are irrigated and farmed, but the houses and town buildings are much closer to the fields, on the shallowly sloping valley walls. )

As we descended the steep path, we ran into the host father of my PCV buddy “Mbarka”. He looked delighted to see me again, and eagerly asked if his long-lost daughter was around. When I said that no, she’d had too much work elsewhere, his face fell.

We didn’t have to walk out to the river – it had risen to meet us. It stood higher than I’d ever seen it two years ago, and my little sister showed me the mud everywhere, and explained that just three days before, it had covered nearly all of the fields. (Fortunately, the ground between fields is mounded high, as an irrigation aid, so we had dry ground to walk on.) We stopped at a random patch of grass so my baby bro could … throw rocks at a tree?

It took me a while – much longer than it reasonably should have – to realize that he was trying to knock down The Last Duj (Walnut) from the tree. We all flung rocks at it, but my aim was no better than usual, and my little sibs weren’t having much luck, either. The little lone sphere, dangling there on the tip of a branch, reminded me of the lone bulb on Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Eventually, we gave up on knocking it out of the tree, and my little bro scrambled halfway up the tree to jab at it with a 3-meter bamboo rod. (Bamboo! I miss seeing it around all the time. It grows there in my CBT village, but not up in Berberville.)

He succeeded in knocking it loose…and then came the Quest For The Walnut.

My little bro finally found it:

And then the cracking, between a rock and the wall of the (dramatically improved!) irrigation canals. By that time, the sun was loooow in the sky, so we clambered back up the cliff face and walked home...where a whole plateful of walnuts, harvested a week or two ago, awaited me!

One last picture from our lovely evening walk:

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps