March of the Maize

by Granny Franny

Dear Asher,
In a small lakeside fishing village, El Remate, Guatemala, I was shown again that love is all about action. Love is the same things we do day by day, over and over, to care for and nourish our families.


Every morning in El Remate, there is the “March of the Maize.” It starts at 7:00am and woman after woman walks with her bowl of maize kernels under her arm or balanced on her head. Today I decided to ask our neighbour Delphina (age 52) if I might join her. With a huge glowing smile, she nodded and I quickly followed. The dirt road was well trod yet had many rolling stones and uneven levels. She wore very old flip flops but walked surefooted the entire way. I am certain she could do this march blind-folded and not miss a step.

How many times has she made the “March of the Maize” for her family of eight, ranging in age from nine to thirty-two? She got to the grounding machine and no words were spoken as her maize was poured and pulled in to be crushed with water. It was dropped into a baby’s plastic bathtub as Delphina worked it with her hands into a smooth pliable mound. She pulled out two Quetzales from under her blouse strap and the march home began. Others were waiting and more were passed on the way home, all passing in silence.

Out path was lined with strutting chickens, a tied horse, spotted pigs, a lone little kitten, and roaming dogs, with a splash of red from poinsettias and yellow from hibiscus flowers. We arrived to her home with a long wood/tin sleeping building housing 8 draped bunks, an outdoor kitchen with a wood fire, a small sitting room, and the love of her family. Now she would make over 100 corn tortillas on the open fire on a large home-made flat pan, that would be eaten by her family throughout the day. The march would resume tomorrow.

She was kind enough to show me her kitchen with her open grill and a second fire for an old black boiling kettle. There were no other utensils in view. Delphina’s husband was happy to pull out a plastic beach chair for your mother and you to sit on. He told your mom that each day he goes in the very early morning with his horse to get the maize. It is truly a family act of love.  Maize is revered as sacred to the Mayans, a food chosen by the gods to feed mankind, and what could be more sacred than nourishing your family with acts of love.

Asher, this beautiful woman showed me that “love” is every act of kindness that is done. There is no grand display of words, just day to day acts of giving: when Mommy feeds you and gives you baths, when Daddy makes a pot of home-made soup (that you enjoy), when Mommy reads to you and holds you up as you swagger along, when Mom and Dad catch you when you decide that it’s about time to take off down the stairs, and when they make you comfortable when your cloth diaper is wet and Daddy wrings out your diaper liner and hangs it on the line. Daddy and Mommy caring for each other is loving you too. Each little act shows love and love is felt in your tender eyes, big five tooth smiles and warm head cuddle.

People write books and songs about love yet the most powerful testimony will be what we see in our ordinary every day world! How many times has Delphina made the “March of the Maize?” How many times have we? Asher, you are blessing the world like Delphina, Mommy and Daddy every time your five tooth smile lights up our hearts!


2 thoughts on “March of the Maize

  1. Hello Slee family
    Nicely done Fran. When you are back we will look forward to some nice homemade tortillas. Enjoy your time together.
    The Gall crew


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s