Crystal had told me about the tea – organic greenthread tea grown near Gallup.
I could not stay for Gallup’s farmers’ market to get some but, luckily, on our way back from the Navajo nation to Flagstaff, I found greenthread tea at a gas station on Route 66.
See the packet of Yanabah tea in the pic above, a shot taken on my first day back in the UK, plus homecoming flowers.
Tonight I sit at home sipping Yanabah tea.
I love the taste, reminds me of nettle tea. Like European nettles, greenthread grow wild, its strength-giving properties still intact.
The warmth and strength of Navajo tea sipped in England connects me to my summer in the US, and two conversations I don’t want to forget.
We visited Anna Rondon on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico with my sister and her husband. Several years ago they had made a film on depleted uranium featuring Anna Rondon, the chair of the Navajo Green Economy mission.
Bear with me while I explain about depleted uranium: a by-product of refining uranium ore, which has been mined in the Navajo nation, it causes radioactive hell for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and the US and UK military.
A green economy provides the Navajo nation with alternative employment to cancer-causing uranium ore mining.
Back to my visit: So here I am in New Mexico for the first time in my life and I have been cooped up in a car or house since leaving Flagstaff that morning.
“I need to go out for a stroll,” I say.
Anna’s daughter, Crystal, gives me directions from the residential street to nearby open land on a rock.
I feel English and befuddled.
Crystal patiently explains: “Follow the trail.”
Then she adds: “Sometimes we make our own trail.”
On the rock, I feel like a child allowed out to play.
“Sometimes we make our own trail”. Stays in my mind.
I leave the stony path feeling brave. I only take a ten-minute detour but feels like the start of a good practice.
That was the first conversation I don’t want to forget.
The next day Anna Rondon takes us to a Sun Dance in the heart of the nation.
On the way she tells me more about her work building an eco-economy for the nation. New Mexico has the resources to make solar power work all the year round.
She does not use the word “sustainable” to describe her work. On purpose.
I rejoice – I have always disliked that word because a) it has too many syllables b) no one really knows what it means.
We both agree – “sustainable” has become a meaningless word co-opted by corporations to improve their image.
Instead Anna Rondon uses the Dine (Navajo) term to describe how to make a living in harmony with the earth: lifeways.
Native American lifeways have been inspiring the green movement for decades.
So, that is the second conversation I don’t want to forget.