Hunched over into a precise 90 degree angle, Fatna sweeps. She sweeps with a dried palm leaf, sorting through leaves and debris, fallen white bouganvilla and sticks. She carries a blue sack to her side with a red stripe, once used for grain. Fatna is old. She has a withered brown face framed with a white scarf of faint sepia toned roses. Her cheeks are full around her mouth from years of facing the ground.When she stands up, she is tall and thin, skin falling into place around her cheekbones. When she bends, she folds like a yogini with ease from her hip flexers to her knees. If she turns her head to look at you, her eyes well with deep sensitivity and shyness.

The sound of the palm leaf broom on the dry ground is like a constant breeze though the trees. It’s soft and comforting. The edges and pathways of the property are pristine. She’s at home there.  Anything done by hand has a certain touch. Even sweeping.

What is she thinking? Is she thinking? She moves through the garden as slowly and deliberately as a colorful, harmless snake. Even at a distance, her presence is perceptible. It stops the mind. Like the song of a small bird, the sound of water flowing, fruit falling from a branch.

The ancient art of sweeping, sweeps the mind clean like a perfect brush stroke practiced 10, 000 times, each time more effortless and free. She sweeps from her heart, not her head, spreading love along the pathways, caressing the untouched and unseen areas of the parched earth, appearing, disappearing, creating a nurturing container for trees to grow, vegetables to be weeded, tears and leaves to fall, love to flourish.

Don’t miss out on Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures and upcoming Slow Food Tours. Learn all about it! Click here.