Monday, August 16, 2010

Acacia trees and a Sunday afternoon

It was one of those Sunday afternoons. Earlier we had talked a bit over cups of coffee, tortured ourselves on our elliptical killer machine, had done some grocery shopping, and were now bored out of our skulls.

A stone’s throw from our apartment there is a small park with two acacia trees. I’ve often looked at the fallen seed pods as we walked past but never bothered to pick one up and examine it. What better day than today? It was sunny with no wind…a perfect park day.

The first thing I noticed was the variation in the length of the pods. Those I saw ranged from 4 to 14 inches. The second thing I noticed was how hard they are. You can bang them against concrete with barely a scratch – the seeds inside rattling as if they enjoyed the treatment.

Trying to open them is a humbling experience. Maribel had brought along a small screwdriver and attempted to use it with a rock to open the pods. As I watched her apply this high-tech method I had thoughts of Moche villagers doing this same thing on this same spot 2000 years ago, though with probably more success than we were having.

I was confident my trusty, constant companion knife would make short work of these pods. I was wrong. The material is as tough as the strongest wood, and the two halves require an unbelievable amount of force to separate them.

Once open there is a sort of beauty to them. They have the appearance and feel of a coarse grained wood. The notches for the seeds look as if they’ve been hand carved. Maribel is not aware of any use for the pods, but I’d be surprised if, where the trees grow in large numbers they aren’t being put to some use. Peruvians are resourceful and can usually find some use for anything.

This is the result of an hour’s worth of enjoyable labor. Now what to do with them?

We decided to do what any Moche villager would have done…we combined acacia seeds with seeds from the huayruro plant native to the Amazon jungle and strung them on a piece of natural fiber from the monofilament fishing line tree common to the Lambayeque Region and made a necklace.

And that’s what we did on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Tom & Maribel

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