The Art of Sweeping.

Via Peggy Markel
on May 2, 2013
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Photo by the author
Photo by the author

Hunched over into a precise 90 degree angle, Fatna sweeps.

She sweeps with a dried palm leaf, sorting through leaves and debris, fallen white bouganvilla and sticks. She carries a blue sack to her side with a red stripe, once used for grain.

Fatna is old. She has a withered brown face framed with a white scarf of faint sepia toned roses. Her cheeks are full around her mouth from years of facing the ground. When she stands up, she is tall and thin, skin falling into place around her cheekbones. When she bends, she folds like a yogini with ease from her hip flexors to her knees. If she turns her head to look at you, her eyes well with deep sensitivity and shyness.

The sound of the palm leaf broom on the dry ground is like a constant breeze though the trees. It’s soft and comforting. The edges and pathways of the property are pristine. She’s at home there. Anything done by hand has a certain touch. Even sweeping.

What is she thinking? Is she thinking? She moves through the garden as slowly and deliberately as a colorful, harmless snake. Even at a distance, her presence is perceptible. It stops the mind. Like the song of a small bird, the sound of water flowing, fruit falling from a branch.

The ancient art of sweeping, sweeps the mind clean like a perfect brush stroke practiced 10,000 times, each time more effortless and free. She sweeps from her heart, not her head, spreading love along the pathways, caressing the untouched and unseen areas of the parched earth, appearing, disappearing, creating a nurturing container for trees to grow, vegetables to be weeded, tears and leaves to fall, love to flourish.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Peggy Markel

Since 1992, Peggy Markel has traversed the Mediterranean and North Africa, from Elban fishing villages and Moroccan markets to the homes of Tuscan artisans and chefs, furthering her own exploration of culture and cuisine. On these journeys, she saw an opportunity to design and direct her own brand of culinary tours in which enjoyment of the present place and moment plays a pivotal role. "When we speak of Slow Travel, we mean that particular experience of letting yourself merge with your surroundings: the pace, customs, mores and style of where you find yourself. It’s really about our willingness to let the world in, and see ourselves a part of it.” For more information about Peggy's trips and classes, check her web page. For more writing and recipes by Peggy, check her blog. Sign up for Peggy's monthly newsletter, to receive stories, videos, recipes and updates in your inbox. Join the PMCA community on facebook for photos and stories from the road.


2 Responses to “The Art of Sweeping.”

  1. Edmund says:

    That's impressive. I guess if a person does anything long enough, he or she will eventually get good at it. 🙂

  2. Kara says:

    Beautifully written piece. Thanks for reminding us of the peace and poetry inherent in simple tasks.