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Honoring a Man of the Soil

Planting seeds in the ground, celebrating the life work of Cesar Chavez

By Michael Heralda
Published on LatinoLA: March 15, 2002


Honoring a Man of the Soil


The announcements are starting to appear in honor of Cesar Chavez and the celebrations and holiday events planned at the end of this month and first week of April.

Cesar Chavez was born March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona.

I have been asked to present my ?Aztec Stories? program for two groups of students at an elementary school in Pasadena, CA on Monday, April 1, with a focus that incorporates themes of struggle, hope, and determination. These are themes that fall right in line with my ?Aztec Stories? program.

About two years ago I wrote the ?Planting Song? ? a song based on an ancient Nahuatl poem by an unidentified poet. As a regular part of my ?Corn/Tlaolli Trilogy? presentation, I make it a point to honor and respect all those who work with, nurture, and care for the plants and foods that ultimately will become our sustenance. These are people who know the difference between soil and dirt.

With Cesar Chavez in mind, and all the things that he represents, take a moment to think about all those people who make it possible for us to eat the foods that we do with such ease ? so easily accessible to us.

Think about how you, we, as individuals can reconnect to the ?soil.? Take your children, or your neighbor's children, to pick out and buy some seeds this month. Plant them together, let the children dig the holes and tell them how they are like little armadillos ? digging small holes to put the seeds in the warm bed of earth.

Teach your children about the importance of plants and how wonderfully they do their job and the rewards and gifts that they will provide if treated with care and love.

The plants don?t ask for love, but they know when it is given. The plants just want to do what they have been tasked with completing during their cycle of life ? simple as that. They are the treasures of our existence.

There are many ways to celebrate people and the ideals they represent.
Honoring Cesar Chavez is more than just plants but I just wanted to offer a suggestion, a reminder, about our connection to some other aspects and species that share the planet with us.

He reminded me about the plants, and he reminds me of the struggles, hope and determination we face, and have faced, for hundreds and thousands of years.

Celebrate in your own way ? group events and ceremonies, or alone with your children, digging and planting in a small corner of the earth.

The Planting Song:

Mira, Mujercita de Maiz
Por donde se enf?lan las flores
Voy a convertirme en armadillo.
Y voy a preparar en la tierra una cama
Para que descances y duermas.

Xi-kite, zihuatl-zintli
Kampa xochitl mo tepana
Ni-mo kuepaz ayotochtli
Ni-pehuaz ni tlahuahuanaz
Ni-kizate kampa ti-kochi

Here woman, beautiful seed (maize)
There where the flowers grow in rows
I shall become an armadillo for you
I shall begin to scratch at the earth
And I shall dig out a place for you, a place for you to sleep.

Music by Michael Heralda from the ?Aztec Stories? Project. March 8, 2000
An ancient poem, handed down orally by the descendants of the Aztecas.

Links about Cesar Chavez:

http://www.chavezday.ca.gov/history.html

http://clnet.ucr.edu/research/chavez/

http://www.incwell.com/Biographies/Chavez.html

http://www.ufw.org/ufw/cecstory.htm

http://latino.sscnet.ucla.edu/research/chavez/bio/


About Michael Heralda:
Michael Heralda is the creator of the "Aztec Stories" Project. He has completed two CD's. To find out more about "Aztec Stories" please visit his web page at: http://aztecstories.com




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