Do you recall some of the words of this nursery rhyme? “And the green grass grew all around, all around and the green grass grew all around…”
You know, the wells that I spoke about last week were not only a source of water for bathing, washing, cleaning, cooking and even drinking. Not only that, but the wells also had other benefits for all the family. Do you know what an oasis is? It is a fertile spot in the middle of a desert. Well, for some reason or the other, the area around a well was the most fertile spot in the entire yard.
You could almost guarantee that around a well you would find some mint herbs growing very lusciously. These mint plants had the greenest and juiciest leaves you would ever hope for. Mom used these leaves and blended it with tea leaves to brew some of the most delicious tea I have ever tasted, of course that is if it was blended with condensed milk.
Also around the well you would find dill growing abundantly. Mom used these in soups and also chopped it for salads and greens. We particularly liked to throw in a few leaves in our pot of beans.
Along with the dill, cilantro was sure to grow around a well. Cilantro was a delicacy as it went well with chopped onions and lime and tomato to make a delicious sauce for most dishes, well I mean fish dishes for that is all we ate.
There were some small onions no bigger than one inch in diameter that we used to make a sour sauce that also went well with fish. The beauty about these small onions, which we called “cebollinas” or small onions, was that the leaves also made a delicious sauce. It was chopped finely just as you would the cilantro, and these also grew profusely around the wells.
You know what, I am beginning to figure out why the area around a well was so fertile. For one thing, when digging for the well you had to dig quite a large area and this softened the soil causing it to have good drainage because the soil had sort of been tilled. Secondly the area around the well was always wet, so the plants got their adequate share of water.
Remember that I told you last week that children took showers around the well by simply pouring pails of water over their heads? Well, this water was also used by the plants growing around the well.
Indeed some villagers also grew hot pepper plants around the well. Some even grew sweet peppers and tomatoes around the well and these provided some shade to the smaller herbs. You also found oregano.
So you have the idea that the well area was one of the most fertile spots in the yard and you sort of had your own herb garden right there twenty five years ago.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist