I have been longing for cornbread for several weeks and may have mentioned it in past blogs. I got not one loaf yesterday, but two. There was almost a contest midst my shopping neighbours who would find it. I decided I would mark the occasion with a blog dedicated to corn.
First, I have to find a scarf with the warm colours of the earth, the gold of the corn and perhaps a little surprise of turquoise. My silk scarf qualifies and I have photographed it draped around Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and corn. My Ceres has a broken arm, but the scarf hides it. I have a dodgy shoulder too.....maybe one of these days I’ll model one of my scarves as a sling!
You must wonder at this Scot, brought up on oatcakes, lusting after cornbread which is very American. I was introduced to cornmeal muffins in California. Yes, my story today is set in America, but not in the West. I am going to take you to the hot dry climate of New Mexico, to Santa Fe, a vibrant city of culture, Georgia O’Keefe, D.H.Lawrence, colourful art and crafts and above all native Indian history and its present day recognition. My husband flew from Texas, Hazell from San Francisco and we met in Albuquerque, rented a car and drove to Santa Fe. A glorious long weekend passed all too quickly. We had used up all our gas on the freeways driving to Taos, etc and suddenly realised on leaving Santa Fe, the tank was empty and gas stations are few and far between on these roads. The desert is not a place to run out of gas, we had planes to catch, so we were relieved to see a small station ahead. Thankful to have a full tank again and time in hand, we wondered if there was something to see in the area. I had a guide book and discovered on that particular day there was a festival in the Santo Domingo Indian pueblo just up the road. The Green Corn Festival. It seemed fate we should visit.
We parked in a poor looking car park with very old battered cars, looked at the crudely written signs....NO LIQUOR. NO PHOTOS and tentatively walked in. We were the only white faces there and felt we were intruding. That was soon forgotten as we witnessed the most remarkable spectacle I saw in all our years in the USA. But first there were all these stalls to look at before the festival got going, mostly blankets, pottery, beaded objects, silver and turquoise jewellery. I was admiring beaded earrings made by a beautiful woman named Shadow who was nursing a child at her breast. My husband had gone off to buy a necklace I had admired. The next stall was selling music cassettes. This music stall holder overheard my conversation with Shadow and asked where I was from. I assumed both he and his wife were native Indians, by their dress and suntanned skins. It didn’t all come out at once, but I was talking to the cousin of our Queen Elizabeth, once removed, the grandson of King George V, James Lascelles! At the time, we had a home in Bayswater and his family had a home in Orme Court, just round the corner! His mother was Margot Stein who married Jeremy Thorpe after her divorce from his father, the Earl of Harewood. So many of these people have died or moved on. It was a long time ago. I picked up on his name on the card advertising his music, as it rang a bell from meeting his uncle a long time before that. That’s a story for another day. Anyway, I was so totally gobsmacked by this Englishman whom I took to be a native North American Indian in the back of beyond, I hardly thanked my husband for buying the lovely Indian silver and turquoise necklace. I wish I had bought a pair of Shadow’s earrings but my ears were not pierced in these days.
By then, the crowds were enormous, we tried to look inconspicuous as the men and youths came out of the central hut which seemed to be half underground where they had their private meeting. Suddenly there was pounding of drums, the chief and his followers wearing magnificent feathers, silver and turquoise, dancing to their gods to ask for a good harvest of their corn. The heat was now intense. How to get through the crowds? Would our rental car still be there? Would we make our flights? I am happy the cornbread reminded me of this chance remarkable experience, and yes, we got our flights with just a few minutes to spare.
The Spanish gave the name of Santo Domingo to the pueblo, but in 2009 the local people changed it back to the Indian name of Kewa. I trust they have a good harvest this year.
In the meantime, I will enjoy my cornbread.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!