Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barriga Llena, Corazon Contento*

I love getting ready for a party.
I love letting the ideas brew and simmer;

 thinking of ways to make the party fun,
mixing up new flavors.

I get into a rhythm of chopping and slicing,
sliding tomatoes and avocados into the bowl with a swoosh.

And don't even get me started on baking!
I love the softness of the cake crumbs and the subtle, pretty colors of their wrappers.

And I love celebrating other people's holidays!
I just celebrated Mexico's Independence Day.
(The Central American countries celebrate their independence on the same day, too.)

What better excuse to get all my friends together,
surround ourselves with streamers and paper flowers,
and share food that made our taste buds tingle and our stomachs leap for joy?
Watermelon spiked with chile,
crispy sopes topped with crumbly cheese,
sticky sweet tres leches cake.
*A full tummy is a happy heart!

And so to all my Mexican and Guatemalan and Salvadoran friends,
I wish full stomachs, happy hearts,
peace and prosperity at home.


What makes you happy about parties?
Have you ever celebrated with someone from another culture?
What did you learn?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beginning and End, East and West

Despite the spider in my lemonade,
it was an illustrious start to the summer.
The beach was the set of bookends to the season now ending.

Our first trip was on an unseasonably cold spring day
a few weeks before Memorial Day.
The sun was bright, but not soft,
and the wind from the Atlantic was cold, but not hard.

The wind-whipped whorls in the tall grass were beautiful, 
arranged as a gift by an unseen hand, frozen there to be found,

and though the sand held little heat from the sun, it felt just right.

Putting our feet in the water made our hearts beat in our throats.

My best friend and I had a long day of perfect companionship,
though she chuckled a little at my assertion that no one should ever need to go to the Caribbean
if they could so lucky to grow up near a place like this.

I know I'll never need to go.

The sun began to set,
and we shivered through our ice cream,

and then the summer wore on.

There were conference calls to listen to, distractedly,
 and pictures of pelicans who looked chocolate-dipped to wonder over,
and emails to nearly forget to respond to.  There was
rain that dripped down on just-dried laundry as I sprinted across my parking lot.
And there were Fourth-of-July picnics and Nutella s'mores, 
fruit salsa on my friends' front porch.
There were meetings and newsletters and mileage reports.

Then the last trip was a few weeks before Labor Day,
just before the students of Shrimp Town trundled back to school.

The beach was devastatingly beautiful.
Along the paths to the beach and the edges of tidal pools,
the sun twinkled through tree branches like stained glass 
in a living cathedral.

The jellyfish and snails lazed in the afternoon breeze.
The barnacles pricked our bare feet.

In the morning, the Pacific mist strode in with more purpose 
than its ephemeral looks betrayed, biting and sharp.

The waves meant business.

They beat against the rocks in the sunrise.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the light grew more
and then less again,

the sea on either side of my days.