This week we got the fence of our community garden into the ground by jabbing a heavy metal rod into the earth to create holes, standing the fence in the holes, and filling them with cement. It felt like real progress after struggling to get the materials and corral the group in the previous weeks. Next workday we will add netting to the fence to keep the critters out, build a door, and (hopefully) start planting.
Returning home from successful fence construction, I climbed the terraces near our house to think about things. On the way up, I was greeted by a man tending to his garden. He asked me why I was heading up the terraces, he said that they fill with pot-smoking teenagers at night. I told him I was not going to be smoking, just thinking and writing. Then we started talking about LLI and his beautiful garden and Huaycán and running. He spoke fondly of the LLI volunteers who often run by him on their jogs in the terraces, one who he gifted a head of lettuce to before she left. He told me to be careful as he headed home and I continued my ascent.
After exploring the gardens a bit, I plopped onto a rock. I had a lot of things on my mind. Like why I was so good-humored after spending hours in the sun pounding at the ground while other times I am glum and off-putting for no apparent reason? Why we had doubted ourselves, as a group of 10 women, and our ability to build a fence? Why, at one point, we considered trying to find men to help us instead of finding our own strength? And finally, what is progress? Is it a fence well-built or a paradox – “a rocking horse that goes forward and back, forward and back, but stays in the same place giving only the comforting illusion of motion” (Peter Godwin, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun). I was out on the terrace until the sun set and street lights started illuminating Huaycán. During the shift from the hazy grey of evening to the golden darkness of night I might not have found any answers but I did find some perspective.