Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why I love the "Lambada"

(L) Sandwich Loaf. (R) Raisin Loaf
It's snowing right now. Just a little bit. It's still odd to me that snow in March is not a normal thing... Growing up in Denver, March was traditionally the snowiest month, and April the third snowiest month. That didn't mean they were cold months, but heavy, wet snows were common. I'm glad it's snowing, even lightly. It's been cool and dry for a week. They've forecasted rain and snow multiple times, and the most we've gotten has been some occasional flurries. Anyway, I don't want to talk about the weather today. I was in the kitchen, Kerouac-dog underneath me, kneading some dough. I'm making two loaves of bread today: one sandwich loaf and one raisin loaf. (I'm using the book that taught me how to bake bread: "Homebaking" which is unfortunately possibly no longer in print. I put a link to it on the book page here. If you can get a hold of it, it is truly an amazing book.) As I'm kneading, I had a song in my head: Jennifer Lopez' new single, "On The Floor". Part of its chorus comes from the 1989 dance classic, "Lambada" by the band Kaoma. (A French band singing in Portuguese!)  I love that song. It's not that I think it's a great song, but it reminds me of a wonderful time in my life. I was a student at the Goethe-Institut in a little German town in the foothills of the Alps called Prien am Chiemsee. My dorm room was in a 16th century hunting villa above town. It was a wonderful two months in Germany: clear, warm days; foggy nights. The long way into town took us through kilometers of farmland. I was in love with that farmland: the small stone fences, the sound of the bells on the goats and cows, the farmers gathering hay without the use of tractors. The late summer flowers shining brightly in the sun. I was a 19 year-old American kid just beginning to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had an idea I'd live in Europe, study languages, perhaps teach. If I didn't live in Europe, I'd need to visit frequently for my important job. The German countryside had a timeless appeal to me, as it does to many people. But things were already changing. Not too far away from our little Bavarian village was a large camp for refugee East Germans who'd made the track through Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria into their West German brotherland. And in a few short months the Berlin wall would fall down... History was being made, but I never forgot the sounds, sights and smells of that countryside: those ancient farms where the traditional way was still the only way. I never forgot how fresh that sausage tasted, or how delicious were vegetables grown without chemical pesticides and harvested and served when ripe. That was the first year I really learned what eating in season meant, and came back confused and no longer taken in by American grocery store shelves that sold everything anytime. So here I am, this morning, standing in the kitchen in a farmhouse in Central Illinois, singing a song in Portuguese, kneading dough, thinking there is no where I would rather be. In the garage, the onions, cabbages, broccoli and greens are growing steadily under their lights. Outside, the birds are singing. Inside the dogs are hoping for whatever manna may fall from the counter. This afternoon, the overgrown garden is going to be mowed. This weekend, the garden will be turned over by one of our neighbors. Here, too, history is marching on. And while not on the scale of the events of the autumn of 1989, on a personal level, this is a momentous day. Three Persimmon Farm will be one step closer to reality!

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