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Easter has meaning for capitalism

Alan Braunholtz

Life is kicking into high gear as the snow melts. Pliable mud replaces winter1s rigid hand of ice. Every thaw releases water to trickle, flow and replenish bogs, marshes ponds and all the wetlands that are so essential to animal life.

The majority of species depend on the riparian habitat to some extent. The smell of warm, wet earth that permeates the air around any combination of dirt, water and plants cries out that the earth is alive.

It is a pleasure to sink one1s hands into rich loamy soil especially after months of cold sterile snow.

Some have speculated that the spicy aroma of pungent wetlands, with all the odor of growth and decay, is pleasing since it speaks to some ancient part of our animal brain that remembers when all life existed in a bubbling marsh.

Signs of life1s renewed vigor are everywhere. On the slopes territorial grouse are strutting their stuff, humming and drumming their wings, protecting their chosen areas of sexual display. They are focused on little else, will rarely acknowledge any threat and will peck to defend their turf. Best left to their mission.

Sky painted bluebirds, migrating hawks and others start to arrive from Texas, Mexico and beyond. If you1re lucky you might see the aerial dogfights of courting golden eagles. Pairs lock talons, tumbling earthward in a passionate game of chicken.

The female will test her mate1s skill by dropping a rock or stick from several thousand feet, and watch her mate swoop to catch it. Much of the action occurs at well over a 100 mph. Female eagles know what they want. She1ll choose her nest site by placing a stick, and the male will get to work. No slap-dash stuff either. If the nest is not up to snuff she may push the whole mess of sticks off the edge. Eagles tend to switch around between nests from year to year, as this reduces the chance of nest parasites.

Romance is in the water, too. Cutthroat and rainbow trout spoon and spawn away. Males and females dance above gravel beds as they create little pockets of fertilized eggs. These redd beds are the future fish and sacredly avoided by fishermen of conscience.

Snowshoe hares, scrub-loving jackrabbits and cottontails are all overwhelmed by the fertile moods of spring. They box, charge, chase, jump and run under each other in a natural display of playful athletic March madness. The sheer exuberance of March hares are part of Easter.

The Roman goddess of dawn, Eostre, arrived on the vernal equinox disguised as a hare and spread eggs around the countryside, from which all the new life sprang. Christianity knew a good thing when it saw it and promptly acquired Eostre for Easter. The symbolism lives on with the Easter Bunny.

Easter egg hunts are a happy childhood memory. We all took turns hiding the eggs, we enjoyed the hunt so much. I think the family dog had the happiest memories. All through the summer he snuffled out well-hidden and forgotten eggs.

I don1t know who created the link to chocolate (a relatively modern food in its solid form), but I am very grateful. Chocolate is a fitting tribute to the Easter gods.

The cocoa tree1s name, Theodroma cacao, translates to 3food for the gods,² and the Aztecs and Mayans believed it a heavenly gift. Recently some cocoa cultivation has received some bad press. Reports from the Ivory Coast reveal plantations using slave labor for cultivation. How could I worship a food produced in such a way? Fortunately, in other countries it1s produced in more friendly ways.

In Ghana, it1s known as the magic bean. Small family subsistence farms find room for a few trees among their crops and tend both at the same time. It provides much-needed cash to these family farms. Since the women do all the work, it also raises their status. So much so that some of the land that has traditionally always stayed with the males family now gets given to the women to keep. Environmentally it1s good in Ghana. Cocoa likes shade and is grown beneath a canopy. This shade tree cultivation creates variety and provides a choice of habitats for birds and helps preserve the soil.

Hopefully, the outcry over the Ivory Coast1s labor practices will create more demand for the socially responsible producers in Ghana, but I have no idea how to tell where my cocoa comes from. As the markets clamor for 3free² trade, we need to choose a trading system that encourages the Ghanas at the expense of the Ivory Coasts, one that gives the consumers the power of knowledge.

In a global economy, every choice we make has an effect somewhere, and we should be aware what those effects are.

Easter is a celebration of life. Choosing products that help others live is a very Christian ethic.

Alan Braunholtz, ski instructor and raft guide, writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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