The weather finally turned, and chilly mornings and evenings mean happy lettuce. The one pictured above was planted as a seedling; others planted from seed are peeking out and stretching now that the air is crisp. For my part, it’s nice not to have to water twice a day (or more), and having my morning coffee outside is now a viable option. I’m still putting the spent grounds in the garden (you can see the darker patches near the plant above), and hopefully after a winter of decomposing leaves and coffee, the soil will be softer and more diverse for next Spring.
After a solid two or so months of growth, the garden has stalled—which is normal for the Texas Summer; now the game is simply trying to keep everyone alive until the weather turns. Recent storms have ameliorated the struggle, but it’s still going to be a long, hot August. If I can keep half the peppers alive, that will be a triumph. The aloe and other succulents will surely make it.
While the sunflowers have come and gone, and even much of the ground cover is brown, this next month is a good time to invest in building the soil, so I’m adding spent coffee grounds and other organic material, while continuing to water like normal. I will add fish skins, once I finally get around to cooking fish (when it’s this overwhelmingly hot I just feel like eating bread and fruit, mostly).
Yesterday I played a game with the kids I work with, where they were given a set of 10 cards each and had to trade them among each other to accumulate as much “wealth” as possible. The cards were different colors: orange, green, yellow, white, brown, and blue. At the start of the game, each kid had a set of 10 different ratios of colors, and I told them that orange = gold and green = cash, and the other colors represented other resources, to be named later. I reminded them that the goal of the game was to collect as much wealth as possible.
We all traded cards for about ten minutes, with me acting as kind of a “let’s make a deal” player, meaning I would make kids outrageous offers (20 green cards for 1 of your white cards?) to see if they would willingly empty their hand of other colors in the quest for orange and green. Not surprisingly, some kids took the bait while others were sure that such a good offer was in fact too good to be true.
After the trading was over, we tallied points. They got 1 point for every orange (gold) card, 1/2 point for every green (cash) card—since cash is technically worthless it only counted half—and 1 point for every blue or brown card (water and earth) in their hand, but only if they had at least 1 white (air) and 1 yellow (sun) card, along with at least 1 blue and brown; it doesn’t matter how much gold or cash you have if you don’t have air, sun, water, or soil.
Of course, the kids who traded me their air for 20 greens had the most cash, but couldn’t use it since they couldn’t breathe. The winner of the game actually had no cash at all but had 1 of every color and then 15 brown cards (her favorite color). After explaining what the cards represented, the kids who had traded away all their water felt foolish, but expressed the appropriate response: Well had I known it was water I would never have traded it!
But then I was the one who felt foolish. Aren’t I trading away my water, knowing full well from the outset what that means?
“Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth–the soil and the labourer.” – Karl Marx