Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The meaning of Tez

My daughter is studying Spanish over the next two years and it has prompted occasional thoughts and discussions about my language learning when we worked in Tajikistan.

Tez is a fun word. Tajik for fast; also for sharp; and for hot.

Goal 69: To tidy the garden and grow vegetables in it in 2010

That was a very specific goal, time restrained goal and now 2010 is gone I can only reflect on how I did. I seem to recall my wife planting carrots and garlic and a few other vegetables. The more I think about it, I'm sure I remember enjoying eating some of the harvest. I'm not at all sure I did much to help. Once I started work on the Open University (OU) module Systems Thinking (T306), many of these goals got neglected.

Although the original goal was for 2010, I intended and hoped growing vegetables would become a regular activity. I didn't manage to even lift a shovel this year, let alone plant anything in our garden.

But, I did buy a packet of seeds: Unwins Pepper (Chilli) Demon Red. 'This chilli may be small but it has a powerful taste.'

Since I knew I was studying the OU module Creative Writing till June I thought a window sill plant might be something I could still manage.

I planted six seeds and of those, 2 sprouted. I cut up two plastic soft drinks bottles and put in compost and the seedlings and then watered and waited.

As the seedlings gradually grew, our garden also produced a lot... of green... weeds. I found this disheartening but was resigned to letting it be until my studies were over. Then, a few weeks ago I remembered a little talked about instruction in the Bible: 'But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards' (Leviticus chapter 25 verse 4)

I suspect for many people, the word sabbath has almost been forgotten. If remembered at all, simply a reminder of a supposedly non-relevant religion. Yet, if we understand sabbath to mean regular rest - none of us want to completely reject the idea.

We treasure our weekends. We expect that if we have to work on Sundays that we should be paid more for the loss we have incurred. We even insist in our laws that animals be given time off to rest and there are many who still stand up to defend the right of all creatures: man and animal to have regular rest.

Crop rotation was something I learned about at school, a way of both acknowledging the need for land to be given a rest from continually growing the same crops but ensuring that we were always producing food to survive on. I find the idea of crop rotation saddening - when reading about the Sabbath from God's point of view, He intended us to trust Him to provide for us. The Sabbath was to be the celebration of a miracle. God would ensure a bumper harvest on the sixth year providing enough for three years and so allowing those who worked the land to rest for the seventh year.

Can you imagine being given a whole year off and being effectively paid for the privelege? That was the plan for a sabbath year.

Well, I lost out on the bumper crop last year but have, inadvertently, given our garden a sabbath year. The idea of a sabbath year requires a huge amount of faith and I'm not sure whether it was ever truly practised in earnest. I am now curious to explore what will happen if I work towards another sabbath year in seven years time...

The seeds were planted in February and the first flowers appeared on the plants in June. As these really should have been transplanted outdoors I then had to pretend to be a bee, fertilising as many flowers as I could with a cotton bud. I was doubtful it would work but in July I started to see little green lumps extending from dying flowers. These gradually grew to around an inch long.

We left the plants with friends while away and by the time we got back, several of the chilli's had turned red.

I harvested my first three chillis on 14 August!

Do you remember that word of Tajik I shared with you earlier? Fast. Sharp. Hot. Tez - a wonderfully descriptive word that brings to my mind memories of running full pelt; cutting myself inadvertently with a knife; and the utter and absolute agony my tongue was in - a couple of minutes after sampling one of my hard won chillis!

If you would truly like to know what Tez means, let me know and if I have any left, I'll send you one of my chillis ;)

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