November 2009

On Sunday, November 1st, 2009  community members, mercado vendors and Esperanza staff gathered at Mercado la Paloma to celebrate Day of the Dead.

IMG_5117 facepainting

Private altars honoring those that have passed populated el Mercado la Paloma decorated by marigolds, sugar skulls, bread (pan de muerto), pictures of loved ones, and fruit. In addition to that the traditional papel picado hung above and  face painting of Calaveras took place. Finally there was a touch of musical entertainment from Los Angeles native 16-year old Leily Sanchez  and community member of Salvadorean descent Moises Matamoros filling the air with melodic singing.

Picture 001 fab and jess

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico and by many Latin Americans in the United States. Many other cultures across the world celebrate this custom of honoring the dead and celebrating the living. If you’re interested to read more about Dia de los Muertos link here.


So there it was.  Right across the street.  A dry strip of land just calling to us.  like our patch of soil, between sidewalk and street, but without weeds, onlydirt. 

 “Should we start a new garden?” I asked. “YES!” the children cried in chorus.  “Do you think we need to ask?” “No,” everyone agreed. “We never see anyone over there.”  There is a dog behind the gate.  He carries in his mouth a dish.  The kids say he is hungry and thirsty and want to give him water and food.  We take a plastic bowl from the art class; fill it with water, gingerly pushing it beneath the fence.  The dog laps at it a bit, but I suspect his real joy lies in having something new to carry about in his mouth.  Casey runs home for a sausage.  The dog eats it hungrily, but then any dog would.  We plant our new garden with cuttings from the old.  Succulents, which are filled with water, make good cuttings, as do mints.  All mints have square stems.  “Sedges have edges; rushes are round; grasses are hollow right up from the ground”.

The next day I arrive with seeds, humming bird and butterfly flower mixes as well as pumpkin and watermelons.  It’s really too late i the season, but hey, it’s LA.  We have no seasons here.  And then the rains begin…Not for long but for long enough.  The residents smile as they walk by.  They enjoy the plants and children.  “Butterfly seeds,” I say, “We will have many lovely flowers.

Our Sunflowers grow huge.  The sunflower belongs to the “composite family.”  This means that every flower contains two kinds of flowers “Ray flowers” (The petals) and “disk flowers” (Inside).

Composites have miniaturized and simplified each flower, then packed them together, so that the many flowers look like one. 

In other words, the sunflower (any composite) is actually a bouquet of hundreds of flowers!

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

A child said What is the grass?  fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?  I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess…it is the handkerchief of the Lord,…

Or I guess the grass is itself a child…Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, …And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars

–Walt Whitman