Homecoming Poetry

Shannon Algiere (beautiful superwoman awesomeness that you should stalk on IG) shared this gorgeousness from the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture:

So I felt inspired to share something I wrote when I came back home in May. Happy Friday! Spread some beauty this weekend. 🙂

It is a strangely distant homecoming –
Coconut trees, breadfruit leaves swaying
in a humid breeze,
Sun shining a dusty purple through
a West African haze,

And I in my bed, looking at it all.
I, used to running with turkeys,
used to collecting eggs and cleaning chicken shit
off my farm boots,
I, used to harvesting, seeding, weeding, serving,
in an award-winning, fine dining restaurant.

I must relearn to live me here
if only for one month –
To carry all the ways I’ve grown,
the guests I’ve served
the wines I’ve tasted
to present them all before myself
in this beloved, suddenly strange place,

and dine

senses wide open as old flavours mix with new
as fine and dingy silverware
dance between my fingers
as white tablecloths are stained
with chicken gravy – not Bordelaise or Holloran Pinot 2012 –
as I smile and listen to old new friends

as I laugh at everything just the same.

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Patty & Coco Bread with Big Small Moments

At the beginning of June, I was in the process of readjusting to life at home: finding new things to eat on a daily basis, new products for my hair and skin, new ways of getting around. In short, I was familiarizing myself with a new, old way of living. It would be a slight understatement to say I was finding my adjustment difficult (my previous post made that pretty clear). Yet, routines are made and broken every day when we choose to push through frustration and annoyance and discover something new, find a better way.

I have been finding my own better way in very small, seemingly insignificant moments, and I hadn’t realized it until I was *dun dun dun* eating a patty :-).

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For those who are Jamaican, you know the distinct and unique pleasure of a well-crafted patty and warm, well-buttered coco bread. Patty and coco bread (please note, it’s not good to have one without the other) is everyday food, “a delicacy for all Jamaicans,” as my brother says. A hot flaky meat, seafood or vegetable pie – curried chicken is my favourite – surrounded by poofy, sweet butteriness. Heaven :-).

I sat in my mother’s car savouring every bite, reflecting on this delicious privilege of being Jamaican, and I realized something. In many cases, our challenges are not as difficult as they seem to be. Our emotions and associated mindsets complicate our challenges and we end up feeling overwhelmed, incapable, and miserable. However, the age-old advice applies: breathe, and for the believers out there, trust where and how Your Daddy is leading you. Some new advice of my own to my future self: eat a patty and coco bread while you’re at it. 🙂

As to my current ambitions and exploits, I no longer want to be a chef! I know that may be shocking considering my previous determination to work on the line. However, after Blue Hill at Stone Barns, I’ve realized that restaurant culture is not for me. I may change my mind at a later date – sooner rather than later maybe – but for now that’s where it stands. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with where we are as a nation in terms of our food system, and where we are aiming to go. I am making different connections across the island and trying to find out where my talents, abilities, and passions would best fit as we navigate our way forward. Shout out to the Ujima Natural Farmers’ Market and the Source Farm Foundation & Eco-Village! Some great people doing great work that I’m becoming more involved in.

Till next time, walk good!

from Blue Hill at Stone Barns, N.Y. to St. Catherine, Jamaica

Absurd to think that two weeks ago I sat curled between raised beds of rainbow chard, turnip rabe and carrots. I was harvesting those carrots, Mokum carrots; it seems a lifetime ago. The soil damp and rich, crumbling and falling between my fingers, giving up those babies quite contentedly. Quality control – I taste one, two, three, it’s easy to eat them. That, I remember. I harvest two hundred because, well, I’m a volunteer on a farm – in a greenhouse to be precise. This farm shares the property with a fine dining restaurant, and this restaurant needs baby Mokum carrots to serve up (with a bit of dressing) on a fence.

Image courtesy of thisguysfoodblog.com
Image courtesy of thisguysfoodblog.com

I once heard the vegetables served on the fence compared to heads on stakes – apparently a reminder of the vicious nature of agriculture.

We eat, eat, eat voraciously, insatiably, consumers we’re called after all.

Anyway, I harvest two hundred carrots, making sure their verdant tops are together in the same direction in a large green bin. Weigh them, place them in the cooler, record the weight and grab another green bin. Back to the soil, my favorite part of the entire job. She smells of life and plenty and beauty.

Today I am without her. Today is the first time in seven months I am not on a farm. I am home, encased in concrete walls and heat and humidity. Jamaican sunshine reigns outside, though it shines through a dirty purple haze made of Saharan dust. Jamaican breeze makes the coconut trees wave in my neighbour’s backyard. I am happy to be home and I am sad missing the soil. As I said, it is absurd that I was so many miles away just two weeks ago. This farm was in Pocantico Hills, NY 10591, exactly one thousand six hundred and six miles from my home.

Ackee, Saltfish, Fried Breadfruit and Change

There are some things you never want to change. One of those things for me is a good plate of Ackee and Saltfish with Fried Breadfruit. The starchy, slightly sweet, crunch of the breadfruit, the buttery ackee and well-seasoned saltfish. Trust me, it’s enough to make any Jamaican happy.

[Insert internet picture here because I was too hungry and anxious to take a picture of my own plate:

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In other cases, though, change is inevitable.

I graduated from Kalamazoo College with a B.A. in Biology a little over three weeks ago.  Of course, graduation is actually spelled C H A N G E.

I am still in the process of figuring out my next step, and I am getting impatient. It’s a strange combination of being anxious for change yet wary, because goodness only knows if that change will mean something good or bad for you.

My family was here for my graduation. They made sure to bring some Jamaican snacks, and that roasted breadfruit, ackee, and saltfish – all frozen – that they know I love and hadn’t tasted in a very long time. Now, I’m craving more. But that’s gone, along with four years of undergrad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that this stage of my life is over – classes are not something I miss. Yet, I realize that sometimes, being so busy studying and working, preparing for graduation, I forgot to own my life and to actually live it.

I didn’t just come to Kalamazoo College for an education; I didn’t just walk across that stage a few weeks ago with evidence of four years of knowledge in Biology. This was my life. I grew up here. I changed here, and now I’m on the cusp of change again.

Thank God that I learned as much as I did, that my family will always be there, and that I can try to find a good plate of Ackee and Saltfish wherever this change takes me.

How to Decide to Own Your Life [and Make Granola]

As Jamaicans would say, mi get style.

I started this blog not only to provide details on and some context for Jamaican- American experiences, but also to put myself out there. Yet in doing so, I’ve encountered some of the most entrepreneurial, innovative, enterprising, dedicated, and forward-thinking people in the world today. All within the span of a couple weeks. In short, I got shown up.

I began to think, what the heck am I doing with my life?!?  

So, in 12 ‘easy’ steps, I came to the decision to make my life what I want it to be:

  1. Realize you’re doing WAY too much, and think what’s the point of all this any way.
  2. Have a mini-meltdown when you realize you have micro-management issues.
  3. Talk to your mentors! They’re awesome people!
  4. Make granola! (Thanks Laura!)
  5. Eat said granola with local, organic yogurt from your co-op and blended organic frozen fruit (YUUUM!)
  6. downloadTweet, watch TED talks, read articles, and be reminded that you’re doing a lot, but again, what’s the point of it all?
  7. Have another mini-meltdown, #overwhelmed.
  8. Cultivate the desire to watch Hancock, ’cause he turned out well right?
  9. Sleep off 7. AND 8.
  10. Make more granola!!!! (Again, thanks go out to Civilized Caveman and Lauren from Oatmeal with a Fork!!!)
  11. Sit down, stop moping, and seriously think about what the heck you want your life to look like and why. #3in1
  12. Own that life.

Twelve relatively easy steps? I had a good laugh at myself along the way 🙂 .

But on a more serious note, we all get told to be the change we want to see. Hopefully, there’s a moment in your life sooner or later when you realize that you actually can be that change. Regardless of limited resources, obstacles or fears. You can build your life the way you want it to be if you’re willing to put in the work.

I’ve been reading articles and tweets and watch videos from great forward-thinkers, young and old. Maya Penn, Tereza Nemessanyi, Chelsea Krost, Danny Rubin, The Levo League, The Daily Muse, Buffer. You know what they all have in common? They have a dream, a concept, a desire. They are working to bring it to fruition.

I intend to do the same.

Make your life happen. And eat some granola 🙂 .