Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Joys of Bamboo While Thinking of a Son Far Away

it's saturday morning. i've been in the garden wandering around. it's peaceful in the cool winter light. i've been trimming the peach & apricot trees the past couple of weeks. it's a lovely hard wood that i'll test out in our new nepali 'chulo' (stove) in the back study in a month after it's dried. at times like these, i feel like a hoary new england farmer bringing in my own firewood preparing for the winter warmth inside.

still, no matter the latent joys of these semi-tropical himalayan winters, the chill in the air this week hasn't dissipated. for that reason, i look forward to the warmth of spring in late february and early march. with a bit of moisture our bamboo will start popping up again, sheathed shoots appearing like spears from the dormant earth.

i was looking at our 30' p. henonis, which runs along the west wall (hiding karma lama's four story home...), with shekar, our long-term man friday. i was imagining stretching that grove, which is only 1.5 m. from the wall, to another 3 m. out by moving the narrow water channel that drains the yard further to let the p.henonis run in a wider grove b/n our home and the neighbors. we've got a row of 20' tajik deodars there, as well, but there's room to let the bamboo stretch its rhizomes and give us an even more beautiful phyllostachus grove along the side of the house.

as they say, everything in its own season. i'll talk to shaku about it and think for a week or two before making a decision.

the past few days, i've had shekar and tek transplant some smaller bamboo to get it ready for the rains later in the year. one is a shorter, thinner phyllostachus that we brought from bali a decade ago. it's created a lovely 15' border hedge on our farm land to the west. we also moved some along the stone wall that separates our properties.

then, i moved some 'japro', a reedy, grass-like fernleaf bambusa along a wire fence separating us from another neighbor. the 'jappro' grows in small clumps and reaches 6'. it can be braided within the wire fence and create a solid green boundary. In a few years, if i'm patient, the back yard will be as lovely & settled as the front, but with its own natural ambience...

the other week, we had a shabat w/ a new friend who came to me through our friends, eli & carmela schwartz from jerusalem. eli was a doctor at the local clinic when shaks & i were getting married and he wisely & gently guided us during pre-maritial anxiety...

micha's originally from l.a. via yale to nyc and israel. micha's a rabbi-journalist-idealist. he's set up a new organization in nepal for young israelis to come here for four months to learn about nepal and volunteer in community service. he's rented a house near swayambu where the 15-20 kids live and eat communally. he selects the young folk personally so it's an impressive crowd of enthusiastic, intelligent, idealistic post-army youth. there's a mix, too, of those w/ american roots, including a young woman from west viriginia/pennsylvania who went w/ her siblings to israel when they were teenagers w/o their parents! i

the setting was a bit like the last supper w/ reb micha presiding over gentle prayers and a lot of teasing and fun. leah came with us and ez came later after his soccer practice. shira & gil, the british/israelis who've been here a couple of years (she teaches science at lincoln), were there w/ their young daughters. good fun and relaxing and a surprisingly jewish gathering for our particularly hindu-buddhist kathmandu.

as for our american son, josh seemed to have settled back in to nmh. he's excited by his english literature class, although may not want to stick to his ap computer science. he doesn't seem eager to have the intense pressure of an ap course which sounds very demanding given the brilliant geeks in the class. you know me, i'd advise him to study what he'd enjoy. i don't want him under too much pressure. he's talking to his advisor and thinking about doing spanish or something else. i don't know exactly what to advise him from here. unless he really wants to learn spanish, i'm not sure that it's a wise choice.

as is to be expected, joshua's deeply missing home a lot after two weeks w/ us, his friends, and lisa, who was here from germany ,over the new year. hopefully, after a week or two, he'll feel more grounded again -- although he's wondering about why he wanted to do an extra year of high school and feeling that he'd have more freedom at college. true, in some ways, but nmh offers him so much, as well, if he finds what he enjoys to study. it's not easy going so far away and being on his own. we all feel that. letting one's children go must be one of the hardest aspects of being a parent. going off on one's own far from the nurturing nest of home is, for many children, equally as difficult.

ok, with love for our children always in our hearts, it's back to the garden for this sentimental father. there's a large jacaranda branch that needs to come down so that the drepanstachyum bamboo (himalayan nigalo) can look even more lovely below it...

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