Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January--now & a year ago...

A snowy evening--always makes one perfectly content to be coccooned with a hot beverage and carb-rich snacks (preferably involving chocolate)...

Just around dinnertime tonight, it began snowing here--a repeat of the snow-'storm' o
f last November--and within a couple of hours, four inches had accumulated! As the temperatures are not forecast to rise much above freezing for the next few days, I guess we'll have the white stuff around for a while... Even though the Seattle-area is the northernmost major metropolitan area in the continental US, (we're even further north than Minneapolis, Toronto, and Montréal!), snow in the lowlands is rare enough to warrant live news coverage, with journalists showing snowballs via live satellite feed...(that's why we launch multi-million-dollar objects into orbit after all, so I can see live snowballs from ten miles down the road...)

This second snowstorm of the season did hit, though, like the first, right at rush hour, causi
ng infernal commutes...Fortunately my wife and I were both home so we could enjoy the following view, with the brake lights on the freeway in the distance obscured by the falling flakes: Just yesterday, it was an unusually mild day--in the fifties--and we saw a bald eagle (!) gliding among those same treetops....

What a difference from a year ago in Nicaragua, when my wife and I were waking up to
80 degrees and thinking, 'wow, sure feels nice and cool this morning! Seriously.

January on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua is early enough in the dry season (Nov. to May) that the landscape is still green, the dust is still mostly on the ground instead of in the air, and trees are in bloom.
This is a llama del bosque (flame of the woods), whose red blossom-clusters are the size and shape of grapefruits that have been cut open and divided up into segments:

I never did learn the name of this tree, whose lavender 'pomander'-clusters were accompanied by foot-and-a-half-long 'string-bean' seed pods:

(Behind the tree is the house where we lived in the "FUNDECI" section of León--we rented out the second-floor from neighbors who became our good friends.)

Bananas are always in season in Nicaragua, so I couldn't resist arranging them on our dining table for the following photo--the huge green squarish ones (plátanos hawaïanos) are ideal for making tostones (flat plantain disc 'french fries'), and the itty bitty bananos dátiles have a hint of green apple flavor and are perfect for eating like candy. The intensely purple fruit is a pitahaya, which grows on a cactus-vine--scoop out the staining flesh, add sugar and ice water and blend and voilà: un refresco típico de León...
And here's what the pitahaya grows on:
Another fun Nicaraguan drink-fruit, is the calála:
Despite the fact that the interior resembles orange fish-eggs (mmm: roe!), the passion-fruit-relative is like a natural TANG concentrate. (Who else grew up drinking that powdery 'astronaut'-beverage once in a while?) Again, add water, blend, strain, add azúcar, and the 95-degrees-in-January-lunch-time becomes more bearable...

A friend of ours lived a couple of miles out of town, and so had a bit of land. She had a very modest house, but lots of fruit trees, including this 'palo de papaya: '
Amazing, eh?, how those massive fruits grow directly out of the trunk, like giant barnacles on a pole...
And they do get to be giant-sized, up to two and three-feet long!

Another benefit of being 'snowed-in' then, is the guilt-free time one can spend perusing past photos of tropical fruit and thinking that other people might care.
Ah, nostalgia...

My former piano teacher, now in her 70's, informed me that when she was growing up (in England), she was taught that "to insist on talking (or writing) about the passing of time and the weather in ones correspondence is to reveal a paucity of worthwhile thoughts." Tongue-in-cheek, she wrote that in a letter to me once, right after mentioning precisely those things...
Can you believe it's twothousandSEVEN, then!? And that it snowed?!
What's the weather like where you are? Yes, I care...

(Man, I'd love to have some pineapple in the morning--fresh from the field, carted into town by a skinny horse, bought for mere pennies...)


  1. two days ago we reached 85 degrees at our house, but today we are back to winter weather at about 60 degrees. you and sara can come visit socal anytime you get tired of the snow.
    michelle and justin

  2. i have similar "in awe of snow" photos from my apartment. :)
    nestolgia is appreciating and mentally polishing the past.

  3. Hey there our socal friends--we just may take yo up on that offer!! (e-mail coming re: that)...
    and Eden--what a great word--NESTOLGIA--love it!