Harnessing the Moon by Anna

This isn't going to be very long because I'm really busy and also because I'm a short and sweet kinda person. Let's look at a crazy awesome something in the Costa Rican culture ~

Costa Ricans love plants and nature! Almost everyone has a garden, hanging plants, rustic porches, fish tanks, and very tiny farms with consumable pets. My mom says she couldn't raise little kids and plants simultaneously, so we never got to have her dream garden. In missions, it's been even worse because we haven't stayed in one place long enough to watch things grow. Anyhow, a few months ago when my mom was talking to our neighbor she expressed her love for fauna and flora, really just flora, and the neighbor insisted that she go plant hunting on the next full moon. Who wouldn't write that off as witchcraft or some crazy superstition?

There are very few plant stores or greenhouses here in our area. The only ones I've seen are on the main roads through the mountains which lead to the capital or other main roads where a lot of gringos travel because foreigners are the only ones who actually buy plants. So, if people don't buy plants, what do they do? Great question!

People here are "pura vida", which means "pure life" in Spanish. It's used to mean lots of different things: hello, you're welcome, thank you, or to say that someone's a good person. The Costa Ricans help each other without counting the cost in lots of ways, one being sharing their plants. Why wouldn't someone share their plants? Why are some people so childish?

Anyhow, my amazing mother embraced the culture, trusted the neighbor, who is also my science teacher, and set out with my dad to go amputating people's plants ~ with their permission of course. They said that they saw a lot of other people carrying plant parts, which is really cool. When they got home, without knowing for sure what she was doing, my mom started planting the clippings she had gotten around town. She wanted to get everything in the ground while it was still the full moon, so she kept working until the middle of the night. This shows how we embrace the culture in whatever place we're living to really enter in and relate to the people.

After my mom was all done planting the "matas" that she had gotten from other people she wondered if any of them would actually grow. She knows I love researching science topics, so she asked me to find out if there is any truth to the Costa Rican practice of planting things on the full moon.

This is what I found:

Cellular respiration, (brace yourself for big words, just kidding) is the process by which organisms combine oxygen with foodstuff molecules, diverting the chemical energy in these substances into life-sustaining activities and discarding them as waste products, carbon dioxide, and water. It's like how we breathe, photosynthesis goes in and cellular respiration comes out. The moon cycle changes the ocean's currents, pressure, and direction, which affects the ocean level which...prepare to have your mind blown... changes the soil moisture across entire continents. This happens about every 29 days. Around the equator, it's hotter so the temperature speeds up growth and it generally has a different relationship with the solar system. It may sound a little complicated, but it's not. Haven't you heard your parents say that sleeping helps you to heal? Well, that's true for plants too. In the time between the new moon and full moon above-ground flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow best. In the time after the full moon, things under the ground grow best. The Costa Ricans plant things on the new moon because the movement of the moisture in the soil promotes rapid root growth. For those that don't like science thank you for bearing with me.

Each month, on the full moon, my mom has humbly/crazily gone asking to cut people's plants. Little by little, she's building her dream garden.  She's also building a lot of friendships, which we all know is the most important thing. When we got to this house there weren't any plants out front, now there are a ton - thanks to my mom who has truly embraced the local culture.

I've included some recent photos of the garden so you can see how beautiful it is.

Thanks for reading. I'll write again soon. Love, Anna

These bush-looking things are actually palm trees.  My mom
planted coconuts that had fallen off our neighbor's tree. 

The redish plant at the base of the tall one
is just a bunch of clippings that my mom took
off of another plant that had gotten too big.
It's amazing how quickly things grow here...
if you plant them on the full moon. 

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