Friday, August 14, 2009

I am trying to eat more and more within my home state of New Mexico. This practice has connected me to my life here more than anything else in my six years here. I like it best when I am part of the history and culture around me: part of the bounty of New Mexican earth, its food, traditions and native cultural life. It is a tasty land.

The complexity of Native Americans living with Spanish-lineage Mexicans living with Aztec/Mayan ancestral lines living with transplants from all other parts of the world (including this Hoosier) yields a fascinating mix of experiences. Catholic saints are celebrated alongside sacred mountains. Creator and Coyote slip seamlessly in and out of one another. Fry bread and sopapillas alternate as dessert. Today it is the corn dance of Pueblo Indians, tomorrow we dance Day of the Dead commemorations. We burn Zozobro, then turn and crawl with penitence eight miles to Chimayo. We sing rancheros with the mariachis, chant in pow-wows and listen to European operas.

It is as fluid as the air around us. When breathed in, when taken in as local food, the molecules of our bodies change. Food and oxygen naturally convert into energy within us; so is it that our very selves become unique to our particular time and place. Our habits conform to the surroundings in which we place ourselves.

I am choosing to forego the imports. The pre-packaged convenience. I do not want to become someone else’s energy from some unknown and distant other.

Instead, I stand on this soil. I eat its flesh. I soak in the lifeblood of this people and allow it to shape and connect me to the ancients before me. To some young Anasazi boy who danced by the banks of the Rio Grande in 1107. To the curandera who shared her herbal healing by candlelight. To saints who surround us, unseen. To bison almost extinct. To rhythms that have pulsated throughout generations and back to me. I become part of it. I connect again with myself.


Odette said...

And I thought I would bring you more tea from my homeland...Bummer!

Eric said...

That is absolutely beautifully written. And you have really captured New Mexico, too. I've been missing it a lot lately.

Dennis R. Plummer said...

Thanks, Eric. I enjoy it when I have the time (take the time) to sit and write.
Odette, I guess if I were to eat what is native to my indigenous culture, I'd be eating Spam and white bread! ;)