The tropics in my back yard

coffeeI sometimes joke that our garden might be known as “Little El Salvador” because I have dumped so many coffee grounds [or so much coffee grounds?] there — I love the Café Salvador from Equal Exchange.

(We compost, but coffee grounds go straight into the garden or onto our tomato vines. Is this wise? Our tomatoes, at least, were formidable this year.)

I was tossing cinnamon sticks into the compost a few days ago, and I thought of the coffee, and it struck me: archaeologists examining historical sites consider it noteworthy if they find even a fraction of the foreign goods that all of us have around the house (or in our yards). Imagine what future archaeologists would think of my yard.

(Example of archaeological frenzy: I visited Parkin, Arkansas, this year, where the big archaeological news some decades ago was that diggers had found a few Spanish trinkets in what was once a large Native American village.  This is a big deal because it indicates that Parkin, as had been suspected, was one of the villages visited by Hernando de Soto in the Sixteenth Century; it is considered one of the very few known sites of that Spanish expedition.)

(Another: This link shows archaeologists gushing over a site in Louisiana which shows trade coming from as far away as present-day Canada:

Regard my yard:

The cinnamon sticks I mentioned above most likely come from Indonesia, the world’s largest producer. I’ve also composted vanilla beans, which came from Madagascar. (These were a very nice gift from a family we know who hail from there.) I bought a whole coconut awhile back which came from the Caribbean.  Think of the amount of banana peels we have composted – from Honduras and elsewhere.

We dream of vacationing in the tropics, and occasionally do, but in a way the tropics have come to us and lie in our back yard.



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