Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Early Morning in the Weaving Centre

I am still staying in the "Ruang Kumpulan", the front room where we plan to hold our meetings with weavers, while the builders work on the quarters destined for my use at the other end of the building. I like this meeting room. It is large (for the kampung) and airy with four windows and an expansive white floor, double doors leading to the road in the front and a single door leading to the wide 'weaver patio' and bedrooms in the back. If we have a lot of guests in the future and the bedrooms are full, they will be able to spend the night in this front room as well. We'll just spread out mattresses for them... I am sure they will enjoy the space.

Waking up in the morning is a pleasure. I smell the wood smoke and I know the neighbours are up and mothers are preparing food and boiling water for their families. It is cloudy again today, but the room is bright and my Wakawaka solar charger/lamp is also flashing to announce that it is storing solar energy in the battery. I hear roosters crowing in their self-satisfied way, and also pigs squealing in delight because they are getting fed.

The dog has visited
When I open the front door, I see fresh paw prints and I know that the neighbour dogs have already done their rounds; reading the 'dog newspaper', I call it. They have come by to sniff out what is new (and what is edible). Also the back patio bears traces of their nosy visit. They are never around when we are active, just when they think that the world is theirs to explore without any human disturbance.

Someday we will see a sea of flowers when we throw open the front doors. Lasma and her husband, Ober, and I have already prepared the soil. I love the bright red lilies and the hisbiscus hedges that we see when we drive around. We will be able to use those plants and prepare something akin to an English garden so that people will not park there or drive up to our building with their motorcycles. Our intention is to make a park-like landscape and a house that is enjoyable to see and to live in.

But today, the view from the side window is special. Yesterday, on the way home from Sidikalang to Simalungun, we stopped in for a moment at the SMA Negeri school in Silalahi, which not too long ago won the prize for the Greenest School in Indonesia.  I was impressed to see that it was more beautiful than ever, full of trees and flowers, no garbage anywhere, with a lovely fountain and beautiful use of the rocks that are strewn everywhere in the valley. I had stopped in to pick up saplings for our terrain. Each class plants trees and cares for them throughout the year. The school then gives them away for free in the village and to all who wish to have them. They know that the deforestation is a drastic problem and this is their way to raise awareness amongst the pupils while helping the villagers. This is also the school that has the innovative weaving program.

Our saplings in their polybags
I found a cache of young trees in their 'polybags' ready for planting and was joined, quite quickly, by one of the teachers, a Mr. Naibaho, whom I had met on earlier visits. He was one of the geniuses behind the greening of the school. "I would like fruit trees," I said, "And other trees that are needed for weaving." He sent pupils to search for saplings for me that were still beside their respective classrooms and not yet in the cache that I had found. And then his willing assistants helped us load up our vehicle. Eventually we had a pleasing forest in the back, consisting of a tree of life (jabijabi/ hariara - the great tree from India with aerial roots; we will have to plant it very strategically), two or three sugar palm trees (for every possible purpose, including weaving implements), two avocado (can hardly wait for them to bear fruit), a soursak and a pinang tree. I think there were a few papaya trees in the group and some kemiri (gambiri, a kind of macadamia nut tree).

A few days ago, Lasma, Ober, Agus and I played with some landscaping ideas. Lasma subsequently saved our coconut husks to serve as pots. Yesterday, while I was away, she tried to use some of the left over wood from our building construction to create a few pots. We also have broken tiles that we hope to fashion into pots. Lasma's goal today, however, is to plant our newly acquired trees permanently on the terrain. She had a big smile on her face yesterday evening when we unloaded the healthy specimens. "We need to plant them immediately," she said.

I see Las and Ober now, discussing where to plant them.

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