Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater


June 17, 2014

As the season progresses, the community garden is bursting with life. A neighbor kept my plants watered while we traveled for two weeks, and I returned to kale, mixed greens, and more kale! We have enjoyed it many ways – stir fried, as salads, as a soup with white beans, and in a frittata. We are almost caught up now.

The carrots are well-established, and my yellow tomato plant survived its baptism of copper sulfate and sideways planting – la jefa of the garden, Anita Rockefeller, had me lay the gangly plant on its side and bury it, only allowing about eighteen inches at the top to curve out into the air. It seems to be working.

It rained intensely over the weekend, so there is no need to water. As I harvest and weed, two ravens greet each other overhead, elaborately and formally. I get the impression they have known each other a long time, but are not exactly friends.

Otherwise, it is quiet today. I was thinking how noisy it would be if plants made as much noise as the rest of us. Instead, they occupy the realms of sight and smell, attracting and repelling as it serves them. I remembered times I have crossed open fields in the hot sun and heard the crackle of wild oats and the popping of seed pods to scatter their cargo. That’s about as noisy as it gets. When I chop the discarded leaves and weeds for composting, the smell of arugula rises up to my nostrils, causing me to breathe more deeply. It makes me wonder if my sense of smell is coming back, or if it is just the intensity of the aroma.

The plant life here is palpable. Knowing that this season of both full sun and rain is short and fleeting, the plants are growing as quickly as they can. They are concentrating. I feel as though, if I could just lean in close enough, I could hear the vegetables dreaming.
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Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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