Saturday, September 15, 2012
This time of year is paradise. The intolerable heat is gone, but the day time temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and the evenings are long and sweet. We have all kinds of festivals, an art in the park, a nationally known walk/race for women, and neighborhood festivals. Since we're more urban than rural any more, the Harvest Festivals are out of town in the villages, and the neighborhoods, provided the neighborhood has a personality, has taken over the job of celebrating the season.
A favorite is the Hyde Park Street Fair, in a neighborhood known for it's iconoclasts, it's tree-lined streets, and it's artists. Metal artists, potters, painters, dancers and young people engaged in politics and the ecology, meet in the coffee shops and talk away the afternoons. A lot of them eke out skinny livelihoods, but have great lives. It's a neighborhood not for the faint of heart. You have to be know who you are and what you want from your life before you venture into those realms. People who are clear-headed do fine.
I'm with some of my best buds: Tim and Julie, Cheryl and Larry. And it's Tim that helps us find an old friend. Rick, the guy who is in Iron Man training, has been out all week with a tummy upset. Fair food doesn't seem like that good an idea.
There are a hundred booths, the usual political booths, but these are more towards the liberal side of things, in keeping with the accepting nature of this neighborhood, soy products, tie-dye shirts, summer hats. If you think this is a throw-back to the 60s, you'd be right.
The Street Fair is a great place to people-watch. At the pack of the park is one of our town's famous foothills, a golden one, and around the hill comes the local high school cross-country track team. Their dark blue shorts are brilliant against the hills. All night long the kids try to run up the trail and then slide back down.
A young woman, decked out in dred-locks, big thick honey-golden ones, and too little clothing steals our attention. What clothing she had was beaded, tie-dyed, patched together. She had on amazing amounts of jewelry: bangle bracelets, pendants, pierced earrings, and chokers. She was astonishing enough, until we saw her mother.
A young handsome man who had shiny, beautiful hair down to the middle of his back, was dressed in a mid-calf length wool coat. Black. Trimmed in fur. He didn't have on a shirt. He did have on black pants and knee-high black boots. I watched him for about half an hour, and then he pulled up the hood on his coat and covered his head and left. It's 92 degrees. So here is my question: Do druggy kids have trouble maintaining a normal body temp? I know, with some diseases, that some patients have a really hard time with that. Cancer, for example.
Most of the people are young families, groups of friends, the adventurous, cyclists, runners, and mountain climbers, an outstanding number of athletes.
So, for the joy. My friends and I got to see Dayo. He went to our church for a time, and we grew so fond of him. He is from Nigeria and has to be the son of a grand Nigerian king. Has to be. Stunningly handsome with a beautific smile. His heart is big and his mind is a good one. He has a daughter that he is so very proud of. He works in a bank by day, and then is the heart and soul of a community organization that fosters the arts and the music of people from all over the globe. His life's work. His area at the fair takes up a quarter of the park. On stage, at that moment were beautiful young girls who were doing Mexican dances. They are dressed in white lace gowns and vibrant, red flowers, and on each of their heads is an unlit candle (watchful mamas) that they balance throughout the dance. Dayo is a great family and community man already, and this project will take him around the world. He believes peace and understanding break out when people sing and dance together.
I that happens too when people eat together. So what did I have for dinner: A Baja Taco with shrimp. Here's how I would make it at home. They had 4 large shrimp for each taco. I'd use 10 or 12 big ones. They grilled them a minute or two, seasoned them with salt and pepper and a little mild chili powder. They used a grill pan, which is what I have too. They used homemade tortillas and since those are beyond me, I'd use a large flour or corn tortillas. They used diced fresh tomatoes, crunchy shreds of both red and green cabbage, green onion, cilantro, and a little bit of lime. They had a sauce, which was delicious and is still a mystery to me. I'd get close with a little bit of sour cream, thinned with lime juice and some chili powder, salt and pepper.
You eat these tacos with a fork, if you treasure foods that actually make it to your mouth.