Friday, March 16, 2007

March salmagundi a month has gone by...again...

Is this to be once-a-month activity, this blogging?

And yes, you read correctly above--salmagundi--
my new word du jour, which I just happened upon.

I meant to write 'miscellany' but synonymous salmagundi intrigued me...
(And, go figure, it even has a French etymology...)

DAYLIGHT is finally lasting past dinnertime up here...
Spring has been teasing us, not just with longer daylight, but also with a couple of days of temps in the 60's...
Cherry-trees are on the brink of blooming.
My first visit to the NW--TEN years ago this spring!--coincided with that y
ear's cherry-blossoming, and I must say, the pink-tinged petals snowing down from gnarled branches were seductive... (Yoshino cherry trees, UW quad)

Since we have a balcony where we now live, we thought we'd go ahead and get a few flowers.

Primroses. I always thought the name was kind of funny--the flowers aren't really
prim; they're rather gaudy.
Bright splotches of primary and secondary colors rising out of lettuce-ish bu
So I looked up the word. Origin--old French: prime rose, from the latin meaning first rose, since the flowers are among the first of the season, even if they're not roses. But in modern French, they're no longer called primerose, but rather primevère, as in primavera, the word for 'spring' in Italian and Spanish.

Word nerd, word nerd...

While planting those flowers in bigger containers on the balcony--the therapy of having hands in dirt on a sunny afternoon--I heard someone in the building down the hill calling out something, and I was instantly transported to Nicaragua of a year ago:
"Doh-gheeeee! Doh-gheeeee!" yelled one of the Hispanic neighbors.
Well, that's how it sounds. It would be properly spelled "dogui."
That is a common name for dogs in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Latin America, it seems

It's also a name of a popular Central American brand of dog-food.
"Puppy" is also a popular name for dogs down there. Pronounce: "Poo-pee." Exactly.

I felt like yelling down from our balcony to the dog-seeking neighbor down the
"Where are you from?"
But I restrained myself.
Wouldn't want to be too neighborly.
Dogui ran back to her eventually.
The canine scolding was in English for some reason: "gwere joo tink joo gwere going, dogui, eh?"

This got to me thinking of some of the things that were in bloom in Nicaragua around this time last year....
We had this plant in a pot outside our front door:

Anybody know what it's called in English?
Down there those flowers are called "fósforos"--matchsticks.

And this: a baby pineapple.
It's called a
piñuela, and is related to the big pineapples. It's used medicinally, as a border-shrub, and to make drinks.

And then, one of the strangest fruits I came across--but I really grew to like these:
Bizarre little things, growing straight out of the sides of the branches. They're called jocotes. How to describe them...Sort of like a cross between an olive and a plum. When they're green you can toss them in to flavor a pot of rice while it's still cooking. When they're ripe and turn red, they're sweet and fragrant, and you suck the soft flesh off the pits...
My wife found them up here--frozen--in a local Latino grocery a while back--yay for Renton!

And these giant hibiscus were also in bloom around León last March:
The local name is 'flor de avispa', or wasp-flower.

I'm sure our local friends in Nicaragua thought we were weird for always taking photos of their plants.
So it was. So be it.

Here's a sunset--from our winter-sanity-escape to San Diego last month--to prove that we aren't just plant-photo-freaks...
(sunset behind Point Loma)

The few-day-stay down there was just what we needed. When we got off the the plane, the simple fact of feeling warm sun and seeing palm trees made us positively giddy.
Living back up north has turned us into palm-seekers.

The living, frond-topped poles--icons of the exotic--have become a fetish...Time to move on, perhaps...