I got in bed the first night and was about to turn off the light when Fidel Castro came in, looked me in the eye and said “I will speak with you tomorrow.”
That was how I met Eddie, the only other person on the farm who was not a full-fledged community member, though his own search in life may be leading him there. He is actually British (it was just the hat and darkness that made him Castro by the way) and I got the feeling his life could inspire a helluva lot of blog posts.
Eddie has a mild manner, speaks little, and has a gentle English accent when he does. His humble, almost diffident manner might send him to the background in some settings, and I suspect many people in this world would not really listen to him. Luckily Netzak, the head farmer at the community, is not one of those people, and treats everyone with respect and generosity.
That is a good thing because Eddie seriously knows his shit. He has worked on farms all over, and knows more about plant origins and behavior than anyone I have ever met. He has a vision of farming that I would absolutely love to see put into practice somewhere. He envisions a more natural sort of agriculture, plants placed where they want to be, harvests only partial, allowing individual plants to survive year to year, or generation to generation, through which they would move about to find their preferred niches. He was delighted to find some chard that had grown up in the shade of a workshop where the seeds had fallen accidentally.
Agriculture and horticulture are so important in Eddie’s life that his occasional snores sound exactly like a puttering tractor engine. It’s uncanny, man.
Eddie has the dark brown skin of a life spent outside. His hair is pulled back in the style all the men on the farm used, and he has compassionate deep blue eyes. While planting dried corn kernels and beans into the dry Spanish soil under a bright afternoon sun, he opted to take off his sandals and feel the clods of clay break beneath his bare feet.
On Friday we finished the tasks left to us by Netzak, who was away from the property on other business, and we had an hour until lunch. So we went wild herb gathering. Eddie walked along the path, explaining plant genealogies and behavior while plucking a leaf here and there, or harvesting a whole young plant in such a way as to thin the area, improving the conditions for the other sprouts. Enjoying the dappled sunshine and watching this process I realized something:
Eddie is a druid.
I have met a lot of green thumbs in my day, such as Netzak, in whom the Tribe did well to place their trust for the agricultural side of the community, but Eddie’s gentle appreciation of growing things borders on the holy. (I mean “druid” in the sense of plants growing in his footsteps, not sacrificing goats and drinking the blood on full moons.)
Eddie was the one person whose picture I asked to take for this blog and he consented, so here you go: a British druid (and the farm’s cow, who we had just fed the bitter lettuce to and was loving it).