Tending Mother Earth
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Tending Mother EarthLessons from the harvest.
When we finished working in the melon fields in the Imperial Valley, opposite the Mexican border city of Mexicali, my cousin Jose drove me home, and I gave my parents all the money I’d made, nearly $400. My dad cried and cried when he found out how I’d earned it.
“Mijito, mijito, it was always my dream that none of my kids would have to work in those hot fields like your mother and I did. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Papa, please don’t be sorry,” I said. “Having worked in the fields is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“But your mother and I worked and saved so our kids wouldn’t have to do that and you could get ahead.”
“Papa, please understand that I will never look at the cantaloupes in the grocery store the same way. My God, people just have no idea how much work it is to pick them in the boiling-hot sun. Once I almost passed out.”
“And it was because of lack of salt, wasn’t it?” he said with a smile.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Did you know that we humans can’t live without salt? This is why we put out salt licks even for the horses and cattle. Salt is the basis of life, next to water.”
“No, I hadn’t realized that, Papa,” I said. “Then why are doctors always telling us to not salt our food?”
“That’s because we no longer walk ten miles to and from town every day. This is because we no longer take our livestock out to pasture, walking sometimes even farther. This is, as you’ve found out, because we no longer toil in the hot sun, bent over all day like dogs at a run to keep up with the trucks we are loading.”
“Exactly, Papa,” I said. “All day we were at a jog in the hot sun. Not for an hour or so, like joggers, but all day long, day after day. Nothing in my Army training or my high school and college wrestling was this tough. You see, Papa, I can now see that something had always been missing in my writing, and also in my life. Sure, I’d worked real hard with our workers here on the ranch, but I hadn’t had to do it, and I can now see that this makes all the difference. It’s a whole other ballpark when what you do you have to do just to buy your food to eat. A rich, full life, Papa, I am now truly beginning to see, can never be lived with just wealth and safety. We need our hard times, too.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “it is only during our hard times, with the fear in our guts and the sweat on our backs, that we learn to appreciate even the smallest things of life.”
After dinner, Jose and I said our good-byes, because we needed to get on the road so we could keep following the melon season, which moved north every few months, keeping up with the weather.
“Go with all my heart and soul,” said my dad, hugging me with so much power that I thought he’d break my ribs. “You are my life, mijito, my blood, my EVERYTHING!”
My mother walked me to Jose’s truck. “I’m proud of you, mijito. You are learning very fast what the true riches of life are. Vaya con Dios. Go with God.”
“Thank you, Mama.”
“Thank you, mijito. Do you have your clean white handkerchief?”
“Always,” I said, laughing and pulling it out of the back right-hand pocket of my Levi’s.
“Remember,” she said, “good manners have nothing to do with rich or poor. You have respect for these people you work with in the fields, just as you would for rich, educated people. It is God’s most holy, sacred work to till the Mother Earth and bring in the food that feeds humanity,” she added.
“Thank you, Mama,” I said.
“Edmundo,” said my cousin Jose once we were on the road, “I’m also very proud of you, just like your mother is proud of you. You are now on the path of bringing honor and respect back to your familia. It’s never money or riches or what you own and can show off to your friends and neighbors that feeds the heart and soul. No, it is the honor you feel here in your chest that feeds the true values of life.”