Jul 25, 2017
Marghanita da Cruz is standing as a Greens candidate for the Leichhardt Ward in the forthcoming Inner West Council election. She took time from her campaign to talk to the Creating Space Project about cumquats.
Cumquats are a small citrus fruit. The variety grown in Sydney can’t be eaten fresh, it’s too sour. Marghanita has a cumquat tree in her backyard. The fruit, she gives away to people who make cumquat jam.
In this story, simple though it may seem, cumquat jam becomes a metaphor for the networks that emerge between people and between generations. I give you the cumquats from my tree, you give me some lemons.
The making of cumquat jam is knowledge that is passed down through generations. There is value in holding onto this knowledge. Modern Western society often encourages us to purchase so much of our diet and to waste what we do not consume. The women who gather to make cumquat jam are custodians of a wisdom that took a long time to be achieved. It is the techniques for cooking that are learnt only through observation. It is the understanding that in times of glut, we can preserve our food for the future, rather than letting it spoil.
The time spent together over an activity like jam-making is valuable too. It is time in which stories emerge. Marghanita recounts some of the stories of Hilma, an elder of Marghanita’s community who passed away two years ago, stories that teach us about the resilience of the human spirit.
If you think about the wise women in your own life, when were the times during which you got to hear their stories? What were the activities in which you stood side by side while they imparted their wisdom? I loved listening to Marghanita. It got me thinking about my grandmother, the stories she would tell while we cracked almonds or made Christmas cake.