Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I said that I would place a few photos on the blog, so the next few posts will attempt to fulfil that promise.

So this is the long awaited photo of a Jacaranda. This picture was taken just along the road from Monze Basic school on the other side of the railway from the town centre. As I left Zambia the Jacaranda were shedding their blossom leaving a beautiful blue carpet beneath them. It reminded me of the Well Dressing that takes place in Derbyshire where we lived for a couple of years. For those who have not come across well dressing, each year elaborate and very beautiful pictures are made from blossom and petals that are set in large frames covered with clay. The pictures are placed over ancient sources of water – wells and springs. The practice is done to celebrate the gift of water and certainly pre-dates Christianity. Often these days the wells are blessed – perhaps by the local priest or vicar.

It has struck me particularly this year how easy it is to dismiss the ancient traditions as nonsensical superstitions – and yet it is interesting to note just how similar current religious practices are to those of our ancient ancestors. When we visited a village to observe their way of life we were shown the way in which the the people called to their ancestors to provide good rains for the years harvest. In the Catholic church we are encouraged to pray to the saints to intercede for us for our needs. We celebrate with harvest festivals and have services full of symbolism.

Back in the UK the leaves are falling as Autumn takes over from Summer. In Zambia some leaves have also been falling – though this is because of the hot dry weather, not the cold! There is however a tree that grows in Zambia that conveniently sheds its leaves at the start of the rainy season. This allows crops to be grown underneath without being shaded. The leaves provide a mulch to prevent the ground drying and eventually provides compost for future crops. Isn't nature wonderful!

This year Jatropa seems to be the plant of choice for boundary hedges. Growing this crop is controversial because of its use to provide bio-fuels. It is however difficult to see why it shouldn't be used in this manner. My fear however is that once it becomes acceptable, the big multinationals will come in and grow it commercially on a large scale, reducing the amount of land available for food crops.


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