Column: Rancheros Con Huevos
By Lauren Reichelt
Rancheros con Huevos is a column written by me where I share some of my memories and experiences of the “old days” in Rio Arriba County (or at least the old days from 20 years ago when I first came to work for the county). The people and places I’ve written about mostly existed and I gave everyone the right names if I remembered them. Sometimes, if I didn’t like a fellow, I renamed him “Dirk.” I hope I have not offended any of my old or new friends, as I love you all. Rio Arriba is my home and my passion. Gracias!
Click HERE to read the last edition of this column.
(#8)The Breastfeeding Revolution, Part 3
It had been decided.
I would help Valentina, Sophie and Delfin to build a day care facility using straw bale construction. Sophie had found a plot of land. I’d purchased The Straw Bale House by Athena Swentzell and talked a contractor in Santa Fe into offering us free advice.
What more could we possibly need?
Clearly, it was time to inform the Board of County Commissioners of our plans.
The Commission meeting was to be held in the historic courthouse in Tierra Amarilla. I stopped by the finance department to drop off some paperwork for Charlene, the County’s deputy comptroller.
Finance was located in a series of cells in the old jail downstairs. The bars had been painted a tasteful white and were left permanently open in an effort to create a welcoming environment.
Charlene’s face, spectacles, thick black bob, and computer were partially obscured by stockade.
“Hi Charlene!” I chirped. I set down Ben’s baby carrier on the floor of her cell and handed Chloe a large book to read.
“Bienvenidos!” greeted Charlene. “¡Y! Lauren, that book’s bigger than your little girl!”
She addressed Chloe. “What are you reading, pobrecita?”
Chloe held up a medical encyclopedia.
“She wants to know about meningitis,” I explained.
“You are too much!” laughed Charlene. “What are you doing here?”
I explained that I was trying to place a day care in a straw bale house, and handed her my requisitions. “I better not be late!” I exclaimed. I grabbed my kids but dropped my diaper bag. Charlene helped me to retrieve various baby items, including diapers, a plastic puzzle and bags of snacks. She stuffed them back into the bulging, orange sack.
“Do you need help?” she asked, reaching for my portable crib. It was three feet long, and somewhat unwieldy. She knocked the diaper bag from my hands, and again we stooped to collect the scattered diapers.
“I gotta see what you’re gonna do with all this stuff at a Commission meeting!” she exclaimed.
Charlene and I headed up the stairs towards the courtroom loaded down with bags. “You been shopping?” someone asked Charlene on the way up.
When I got there, a few rows of mothers already waited, squirming babes in arms.
I set up a portable playpen behind the wooden courthouse pews, completely oblivious to startled expressions and scowls on the faces of the Commissioners at the front of the room. I lowered Chloe into the playpen along with her medical encyclopedia and the puzzle.
Charlene sat prudently in the middle of the room away from the row of Moms.
Chloe read her medical encyclopedia, Ben snoozed and the other babies wiggled as I conferred in the back with Sophie, Valentina and Delfin.
Soon it was time for the pledge of allegiance and opening prayer, which commenced without incident.
Eventually, the room grew warm as speaker after speaker droned on. Chloe became bored with meningitis. Ben woke up and began to fuss. Sophie’s baby started to kick and cry.
Lorenzo and the Commissioners pretended not to notice.
Exasperated, Sophie pulled out a blanket and began to discreetly nurse her baby. Her long brown hair draped over the blanket and her skirt stretched to the floor. She looked like a nineteenth century painting.
Soon other mothers followed.
“Wow! This is fantastic!” I thought to myself. “This culture is so open! You can nurse your baby at a government meeting and nobody minds!”
Feeling liberated by my newfound understanding of local culture, I removed Ben from his car seat, took my place beside Sophie and loosened my blouse, quietly offering my baby a breast.
All was well with the world. Stunned, the men leading the meeting didn’t know what to say, so they said nothing.
“Now that’s what I call keeping abreast of the situation!” someone in front of us muttered under his breath.