Down and Dirty with Rachel
Dusty tan. Red. Burnt orange. Bright orange. Dark brown. Grey. Green. Pink.
The 800-mile journey from Corrales, New Mexico to Fayetteville, Arkansas brought with it four states, two time zones, 733 miles on I-40 East, one-and-a-half audiobooks, and a changing color palette. The sagebrush-spotted landscape and tan sandy soil of New Mexico and East Texas changed into rocky, red soil with slightly denser vegetation sometime in Texas, which morphed to burnt orange soil a little before Oklahoma City. (The precise boundaries are a little blurry in my head.) Then night hit, and I couldn’t tell you what color the soil was, even if my entire attention wasn’t focused on not getting blinded by oncoming headlights and not running into concrete barriers in construction zones. However, I did snatch glimpses of the bright orange sunset in my sideview mirror.
When I started out at daybreak the next morning, it wasn’t the color of the soil that drew my attention. Perhaps because it was covered in grass. (Grass! How I missed that in New Mexico.) But rather it was the dark brown of trees (thick stands of trees!) and their bare branches. A grey fog blanketed the ground, and grey-pink clouds reflected the morning light. I had entered the land of humidity. As I turned north up I-49 and entered the Ozark hills, green conifers intersperse with brown deciduous trees, and patches of green popped up in the tan dormant grass.
As I pulled into my neighborhood, I rolled down my windows to take in the crisp, fresh air laden with moisture. I leaned back and sighed as a smile crept across my face. The next morning, pink earthworms crawled across the asphalt road, which was wet from a steady overnight drizzle.
I will soon embark on a longer journey. In March, I will head to Guatemala for a 27-month stint with the Peace Corps. I do not yet know where in Guatemala I will be or what my exact project will entail. But I do know I will be working with farmers in a rural community. I look forward to discovering that journey’s colors. What will be the colors of the soil, plants, sunrises, sky, food, animals, clothing, and so much more?
Thank you for being with me these past nineteen months. I appreciate the support of the Master Gardeners, Extension service, and wider community. It has been a pleasure to work and learn with you. I will take with me lessons that will support my efforts in Guatemala and beyond, surrounded by whatever colors may be present.
This month’s puzzler/trivia question: What is the only U.S. state to be bordered by two states that start with the same letter as that state?
Last month’s puzzler:
A burger costs $14, ice cream costs $20, salad $12, potato $15, and soup $10. How much do oysters cost? (Hint: four oysters cost more than six oysters, but three oysters cost more than two oysters.)
Last month’s answer:
$16. Vowels cost $3 and consonants cost $2.
A Fond Farewell to Rachel
As many of you know, our Extension Agent, Rachel Zweig, has been accepted into the PeaceCorps (Guatemala). Our loss is Guatemala’s gain. Rachel helped us ‘emerge’ from COVID as a stronger and wiser community of gardeners. Her irrigation classes alone reached (and helped) hundreds in our community. Her sense of humor (and her newsletter puzzlers) will be greatly missed. SEMG is deeply grateful for the time she’s been with us. SEMG gave her a National Geographic Adventure Map of Guatemala along with a brass compass to help her find her way along her journeys.
We wish you the best, Rachel, and we look forward to following your adventures in the PeaceCorps! We will miss your blog!