My posts have been somewhat erratic over the last month or so: I've been seriously distracted with a new project. Until this past year I was a Waldorf teacher, first in the UK, then the US and then here in Costa Rica. This year, 2009, I left teaching for what I thought would be for good. Throughout the year people have asked me to start a little school and I've resisted, but it's been gnawing at me. Events have happened, the stars have aligned properly, things have just seemed to slip into place and so I find myself about to embark on a new school project.
The Sea Heart School will begin January 20th (the Costa Rican school year runs beginning of February to mid December). We will begin with a kindergarten and a homeschool support group for older children. We chose our name for the sea heart vine (Entada gigas), wishing to have our symbol be something which would connect the forest and the ocean. Sea heart vines grow up through the canopy, they are leguminous and form the longest seed pods in the world. When ripe the pods drop and shatter sending the seeds in all directions. The seeds are very beautiful: a deep brown polished looking woody heart, often they make their way down streams to the ocean where they become one of the most common and attractive drift seeds. Carried across oceans or around the world in currents they wash up on shores as far away as Ireland to be carried home as gifts from the sea. The sea heart connects forest and shore in a wonderful way - as a living and beautiful and heart shaped seed, ready to grow into a thriving, climbing, nitrogen fixing plant! As a world traveler it also symbolizes our children who come from Central, South and North America and Europe. We hope our children will also grow and thrive and be at home in the forest, and the oceans, and are flexible and willing to travel to new destinations and make new discoveries on all levels of their being.
Our school house is very close to the farm, and almost as close to the ocean. It's a small traditional house with a yard that is ready to be painted, planted and loved. Right now it needs work - two walls, a rainwater collection system, repairs, paint, plumbing in the kitchen . . . but I love it, it's full of potential and crying out for the laughter of children. It has a grapefruit tree in the yard full of fruit - perfectly delicious pink fruits.
How would the dogs do on christmas morning without something in their stockings? Not so well I fear.
Here's a nice healthy dog treat to tickle their fancy while everyone else is exchanging gifts. This recipe is gluten free for the sake of our shepherd, Hoss, who has wheat allergies. Any flour can be substituted, I sold these made with wholewheat flour at the farmers' market last week!
1/2 kilo liver (any variety, we use local pig as Hoss is somewhat sensitive to beef)
1 grated carrot
1/4 cup oil
3 drops oregano oil or 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (good for coats, bad for fleas)
2 cups chickpea flour (or substitute)
1 cup rolled oats
Blend liver into puree with water. Mix in other ingredients, you may need extra flour depending on the amount of water used. Drop cookie dough onto baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 15 - 20 minutes. Store in the fridge. Enjoy!!!!
Christmas is almost upon us. One has to try pretty hard to muster christmas in the tropics. Growing up in Scotland I was intensely aware of the dark and the cold and the weight of the year. The solstice and the lights of the christmas tree, the burning fires and candelight, the feeling of anticipation for something more than gifts, the deepness and stillness that comes with snow, the strength of the quietness of those nights. . .
All the things that bring on a mood of reverence and awareness of what is beyond the small things of life have to be sought for anew here where the weather is as always, the light is it's typical 12ish hours and there's no snow for miles and miles and miles.
I'm getting there. I've found an online radio channel that plays what I want to hear for this time (Accu radio). I've made my first batch of mincemeat pies, and today will work on the second. I've made an advent nature table with the 4 kingdoms represented (figuring that the 5th, fungus, is present in all). I'm playing carols on my flute, and yesterday we decorated the tree.
Our christmas tree is a living one, a Norfolk Pine. Norfolk Pines don't grow here, but the farmer has a way with plants and has coaxed this one through several christmases now. It's not your typical christmas tree, the lower branches have been dropped and the bare trunk is decorated with lights and a couple of growing vines. It looks somewhat like a palm with its long slender (very slender) branches radiating out, each set making a 5 pointed star. The set it put out this past year make the tree about 7 foot tall, but luckily the branches sweep down and out, each is lightly festooned with old and handmade decorations.
I'm making several gifts, of wood, glass and wool, trusting that they'll all come together in time. The dogs biscuits will get done today and I've got an order in for pigs' ears with Noity, hopefully they'll have that treat too on the 25th.
We have a big party for friends and neighbours on the 25th and the invitations went out this weekend, we'll have rondon (recipe soon, a traditional dish of coconut fish stew), salads from the garden, christmas pudding and mincemeat pies, plus whatever else is brought to share.
It's all good. I'm slowing sinking into that peaceful center of joy and connection with the greater. All good.
It's been a while since I last blogged, it seems I'm otherwise occupied with many varied but hard to pinpoint thoughts, tasks and activities. The farm is entering a more dormant period with the rains and change of light. Here, being 9 degrees north of the equator, we don't experience such dramatic solstices, we still have close to 12 hours a day, but the quality of light is different.
My pumpkins while still flowering will not set. The cranberry hibiscus having put all its energy into flowering is dying back, the malabar spinach is dropping leaves. It's a time to back down, weather the wet and take a moment out of the crazy growing spiral that is the rainforest.
In the orchards the mondu (Garcinia dulcis) is still fruiting, the araza has dwindled to one or two malformed fruits and my beloved champedak is almost done: each harvested fruit smaller and lighter than the last.
We are harvesting vanilla for the first time and I will post about that. And our salak is strong too, today in the kitchen I'll be drying the salak and making mondu jam.
Otherwise we've been busy going back and forth to San Jose for various appointments. We took part in a 'Sustainable and Fair' faire last weekend, it was very good. We were the only vendor there selling dried fruits and cacao and we sold out of everything but jam. It was also a good opportunity to connect with others and we have a couple of new clients from it. There were a lot of craft and artisan vendors selling some really nice things from shoes to masks, and several indigenous vendors selling heirloom grains and medicinals. And all of it fair trade and 'sustainable' (whatever that means). The faire is bi-annual and is by invitation only. I hope we are invited to the next one in May. Oh one more thing, the President was there and bought some jam and fruit from us. Does that make us by presidential appointment?