Monday, March 10, 2008

the botany of desire

a fruit, a flower, bud and a spud... i’m wrapping up this book The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan. great reading, Pollan’s style and the content. 4 sections. 4 plants. 4 human desires. the relationships b/w plants and people. specifically, how we use them and they, in turn, use us. the apple and sweetness. the tulip and beauty. marijuana and intoxication. the potato and control.

each section has been intriguing and thought-provoking in so many ways. his mix of science (natural and social), folklore and history. very interesting. all the more b/c i’ve experienced all 4 desires myself and found satisfaction in the plants associated with them. never realizing how much the plants were using me as much as i was using them.

the apple and bud are things of the past now. both forbidden fruit, if you will... one i’ll go back to (apples, of course), one i won’t. flowers i still see here. and they still enchant me. mama sent me a page out of a nursery catalogue from home. she said she remembers me when she sees flowers. all the flowers in the pages she sent were, of course, tulips... coincidence? there are no tulips here, but flowers and beauty nonetheless.

then, potatoes... it is potato season here. potatoes, potatoes and more pommes de terre (literally, apples of the earth!). just finished a meal of potatoes... coincidence? i read about potatoes. agriculture. control. everyday i pass fields of potatoes. watch farmers planting them. people harvest them. and i eat them. i want to get into that chain as a grower myself.

reading about all these plants (especially potatoes and organic farming) so makes me want to get out into the field. no doubt i will. but i want it everyday. i want to work with plants as much as people. here and back home. to teach and grow... me, people and plants.


  1. mashallah mohamad--seems like being in Cameroon as a PCV was an awesome experience, thanks for sharing through this blog (i used to want to work with them a lil while ago too). did u just write ur thoughts in a journal then type them up here?

    btw potato translates the same way in farsi: seeb zamini (apple of the earth)

  2. thanks sabira! yup, i was keeping a journal throughout my 2 years there in cameroon. then, 4 years later, i decided it would be a good idea to type them up... guess it took that long for me to have enough distance and perspective on the experience. also realized there was a story hiding in there somewhere, so i think i'm writing it here. in an organic sort of way, i suppose.

    peace :)