There are so many stories I have to catch this blog up with. So many significant episodes in my daily existence – meaningful doodles scribed in brilliant colors, far brighter than anything some rainbow could imagine. Were I to try to write them all I fear I’d fill every page the internet had left. Moments like walking atop ice and snow crusted trails with fearful friends, a snake curling out from towering golden grasses to cross a raining beach side path, a teammates five year old daughter calling me Kuma-chan and hugging me hello, or any of the many times our family here has raised our glasses and in ritualized unison - beginning the night with a, “Kampai!” and a smile. This weekend was no different.
We celebrated the birthday of the much loved Cat. With a long planned BBQ in a wisteria topped park. A chance to catch up with Colin (who has been an unfortunate missing piece to my Kochi family puzzle of late), and the usual cast of Kochi City loved ones.
I started the charcoal grill, and spent the early part of the gathering tending it. Once everyone arrived and the typical amalgamation of laughter, eating, and the multitude of conversations whipped about my ears I noticed the sound of the fire cracking, onions sizzling, and meat searing. I take note of this because it is as much a part of the experience for me as my friend’s voices. The sounds of cooking. I am beginning to realize that motions and sounds of a kitchen (makeshift or fully stocked) are one of my greatest comforts in life. Perhaps it is that I have just spent a lot of time invested in learning about foods and how to make them taste good, but I like to imagine that it goes beyond my personal investment in the culinary world. To me the popping fat on fire, or the searing sound of a well caramelized piece of beef takes me back to sitting on the counter as my father prepared dinner before my mother came home from work, or perhaps to just before Thanksgiving dinner as my Grandfather exchanged stories and my grandmother pulled the turkey (golden and crisp) from the oven after a day under her watchful gaze, or perhaps . . . to any other significant meal. For me cooking amidst friends is a full sensory activity. The mind is playing in a field of friendly voices, the heat of the cook fire, the coolness of the metal tongs, the rhythmic dicing of steel edge on wooden chopping board, smells carried on steam from simmering pots, and laughter. Here in Kochi, there is always laughter.
So we ate and laughed. The sun was bright. The wind blew. I lead a life filled with so much happiness it is hard at times for me to believe that I could be so lucky. To be able to see all those memories (to be taken back home in a sense) by simply cooking is a feeling I hope to never loose. There used to be a sign above my bed that had three quotes on it. It said, “Eat good food. Clean up your mess. Be kind.” I like to think that those are three of the guiding factors in my life.
In other news: My spring garden has jumped into life, with cucumbers, edible flowers, basil, and broccoli all doing splendidly.
I baked a delicious red velvet cake that was a huge hit, and lastly I suppose I have been thinking of my grandfather a lot recently because I can’t get this line from It’s A Wonderful Life out of my head:
“Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.”
More to come!