Las Alcachofas

Mar 13, 2020 | 5 comments

Just a few scant miles west of Cuenca lies a small and quaint paroquia named San Joaquin. Edie and I have been fortunate to call this area our home for a couple of years. It’s where we moved after our exodus from a life in El Centro where we lived high in the sky, penthouse style, for a long time. Back in the states, we lived on the very edge of suburbia. Just a block or two south of where we kept our home, cotton sprawled, soybeans shot toward the sky and the tassels of corn swished in the breezes for many tens of miles. Agriculture is big in the South and you see it everywhere you cast your eyes. We always enjoyed the countryside and the folks that peopled it.

So, wanting to return to a home in lieu of an apartment was natural for us. The tranquility of country living, mostly devoid of smoke spewing busses and the general din that never subsides, was going to be more to our liking as it had always been before. We had a big place stateside, with property, and longed to re-introduce that aspect of life to our experience here in Ecuador. After a great deal of luck and some poking around, we made our big move to the countryside. It’s cool too! I have a driveway leading right to my plant festooned covered porch area where El Fantasma makes his berth every night. It’s ten steps to my front door, no smelly underground parking garages and elevator rides for us! And, we have peach, cherry, pear, apple and apricot trees on our property. Animals abound with kitties and dogs counted on both hands and plenty of calves to pat. Shoot! We even have a llama that lives here on our place. When it gets loose, I have to catch it and bring it back to the area where it grazes. Yes, it’s pretty much paradise here where we are.

And then there’s the real treasure, the people of el campo themselves, who turn the dirt, chop the corn and feed the cuy’s. A finer lot will not be encountered elsewhere. People make a community and this one is no exception. I make it my business to know them and their families and familiarize myself with their comings and goings. I buy much of our organic produce directly from the fields that these people maintain, picking what I like if I so desire. Like them, I usually walk  where I’m going, shouting my greetings across the way to all I encounter.

One of my favorite farmer buddies is named Gregorio. Gregorio has a unique physical condition for a farmer, he has one arm. He grows a good variety of things and his smile is as big as his heart. I love seeing him and I expect to write more about him, sharing his life with you, sometime in the near future.

But for now, I have this photograph to offer. I decided to interpret my image in a monochromatic manner, accentuating shapes and textures of the plants by omitting colors. It’s triplets of artichokes in one of Gregorios fields. When I made this photograph, I had never seen a field of artichokes before. They seem almost alien in appearance from a distance. Those spikey heads wavering on those long bare stalks seem like something from another world marching toward me. The lush buttery flesh of their steamed goodness will be on my plate tonight. My money jingles in Gregorios pocket. Life is good in the Paroqiua of San Joaquin.

Brian Buckner

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