A Lesson from Angel
Many years ago a Mexican man named Angel worked for us in the orchard. He lived up the valley on the land of a neighboring orchardist, in one of the one-room, plywood-sheathed homes available. In polite company, they were called “Pickers’ Cabins”; most of the time they were called “Pickers’ Shacks”.
The cabins weren’t much. Quickly constructed frames with enough exterior for warm weather nights. They weren’t built for winter, although many lived in them year-round. Probably about 8 ft. x 12 ft. each had a cot or two, a simple cookstove and fridge, and a window. I don’t remember whether the cabins had woodstoves. They may have had a little table and a chair or two.
I never saw Angel’s cabin, but was told that it was absolutely spotless, immaculate, uncluttered, organized. No garbage littered the ground outside his cabin. Angel took pride in his home in spite of the meager shelter that it really was.
Here in Milano, I have two big rooms plus a bathroom. I’ve been scrubbing the walls lately; they haven’t been painted in a while and they’re scuffed and dirty. And I’ve been packing up the many things around the place that were provided as “furnishings” but are neither useful to me nor “my style”. This place has its funky aspects, but I’ve been paring it down, and doing small touches that personalize and make this feel like home.
I am by no means likening my apartment here in Milano to the cabins the orchard workers live in. That would be insulting. But I reflect on Angel’s THINKING, and that is his lesson in this. That no matter where one lives, in a home small or large, spare or luxurious, one can always create that home to reflect self-respect, dignity and personal expression.
My apartment here is very different from my home in Seattle, and right now this apartment is just perfect.