16 September 2007

The 5 a.m. pollinator

[9/16/07 IMORONA, Madagascar. Dear Grandma, People here in northeast Madagascar are dedicated, gentle and quick. They have to be to succeed on some of the best vanilla plantations in the world. Six days a week, Séance wakes up at 5 a.m. to pollinate the orchid flowers on vanilla vines. The climb up the side of a steep and misty mountain. He walks for an hour – down a dirt road, down a cool stream and through a rice paddy – to get there. In Malagasy, the name of the mountain means “rising sound of moving water.” (Lots of names here are cool and literary). But no time to ponder that now, I’m worn our from following Séance all morning, and I think I’m going to take a nap. People here – just like in Oklahoma – are so proud and hard-working. Darting around the hills to pollinate flowers is just the first of Séance’s several jobs, and he lives in a bamboo hut that’s just barely bigger than a king-size mattress. I’m doing my best to learn from everyone here … Hope you’re doing well. Love, John]

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