Mary Grace Bertulfo

the writing life, filipino culture, & the natural world

Archive for the 'The Digging Stick' Category


Chicago Storm – Aftermath

Friday, June 18th, 2010
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At around 4:20 p.m., we ran to our van. A storm was breaking and the crowns of the 50 – 100′ trees in our town began to dance. Branches broke off, leaves flew through the air, and rain drummed the van roof. Streetlights at major intersections had lost power. It takes us 10 minutes to […]

Debt of Gratitude, Utang na Loob

Saturday, June 12th, 2010
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What if the land did not belong to us? And we could not own it? What if we belonged to the land? In my family, we have this idea, a Filipino tradition, a value and a feeling: utang na loob. It’s been translated as a “debt of gratitude”. It is profound, inescapable, and there is […]

Planting Day

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
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Tanim, tanim, tanim. Plant, plant, plant. When I woke up this morning, I was so excited to start the new day and finally plant the seedlings and seeds I’ve been gathering. Because my historical fiction is grounded in the sixteenth century Philippines, I’ve learned all this cool stuff about our traditional relationship to nature. Our […]

Beginner’s Mind – Organic Vegetable Gardening

Saturday, June 5th, 2010
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They say that the beginning of wisdom is to know that you know nothing. Yes, friends & kababayan, given this definition — it’s official — I am wise. Starting this new adventure of putting together a small organic vegetable patch in my backyard has made me realize how much I don’t know. Like: When do […]

Making Amends

Friday, June 4th, 2010
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In planning this organic garden, I’ve had to call on the guidance and infinite patience of my friend, Garden Diva. (Me: “What does germinate mean?” GD: Tries not to roll her eyes. The sound of someone summoning tremendous restraint. “Sprout, it means sprout.” Long, long pause. “M.G., even my kids know what the word germinate […]

The Digging Stick

Monday, May 31st, 2010
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I am wet. Mud streaks my rag-a-muffin shorts. Rain pelts my head and runs down my face in rivulets. Crumbs of brown soil are lodged under my fingernails. And I am completely happy. It’s a three-day weekend and I’ve spent nearly all of it outside. Mabuhay! Live! I’m not out in Chicago’s urban wilds; this […]