“I feel like I need to some things to look forward to right now,”I told a friend in a recent text conversation.
“Just eat some chocolate and be excited for your okra to grow,”she replied.
I laughed, text-style:hahaha.
“You’re right,” I wrote. “We have a lot of good in the present and near future.”
The next day the okra poked through, unfurling in strong, solid stalks.
It’s not just the okra. It’s lettuce, kale, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cilantro, green onion, basil, and Swiss chard.
And it’s not just the vegetables. It’s reading with kids every Wednesday, Tuesday night ‘family dinners’ with our sitemate, helping adults learn English.
And it’s not just our day to day. It’s an upcoming trip to Swaziland and a visit from my parents.
“But I just get restless here sometimes,” I told her.
I need a good, long hike in the woods that will grant me hours and hours of doing nothing but putting one foot in front of the other, letting my thoughts roll as I go, figuring things out.
Mapinhane is a mile from end to end, and there’s not an elevation change in sight. Every walk results in conversation, which is sometimes wonderful and sometimes stifling when all you want is to roam in solitude and think things out. We are here day after day, week after week, rarely travelling further than Vilanculos, an hour away.
How do you calm a restless soul, such as myself?
Remind them, as my friend did, to be content and to delight in the small things.
Remind them to watch the garden grow.
My garden is vegetables. Each day I give them drinks of water and watch them reach for the sun.
My garden is also a student gaining enough confidence to speak in class, a seed that was planted in February.
My garden is a primary school teacher learning to use a school library, and 70 students coming in for free-reading time.
My garden is Marcia, a determined adult English language learner, when she tries without fear to speak in English, her third language.
My garden is my friendships and seeing how they’ve changed- grown, wilted, and grown anew- in the last 8 months.
My garden is my Portuguese, my teaching skill set, my patience, my general sense of self.
Eight months in and I am undeniably restless. Maybe I will get my good, long hike on our trip to Swaziland in August. But until then, I’ll water the seeds and watch the garden grow, inch by inch.