patricio and i have discovered our own fresh chile supply, right in our friend enrique's back yard. clinging to the high, south-facing wall is a tangled web of thin trunks and thousands of leaves, and suspended in the tangle--smooth and shiny and golden yellow--are more manzano chiles than enrique cares to pick. spotting a win-win harvest situation, patricio volunteered some picking service yesterday, and he brought home a pound of those lovely yellow, fiery fruits.
he was home early, giving us a lucky chance to spend more time together. and looking down at the weighty bag of manzanos in his hand, we knew without a word that we'd spend the afternoon in the kitchen. we'd talk about the day, the rain, and the presidential debate, side by side as we cooked up the chiles in a sauce of escabeche.
the kitchen air was soon suffused with spices boiling in vinegar, mixed with the sharp, nose-tingling smells of sliced-up onions and chiles. while we sautéed garlic and onion, soaking chile with more oil, we also soaked up the happy vibes sent out in each other's presence.
dating long-distance, and married for two months before finally calling the same place home, i think we lived through a smallish, extended crisis. and it made us particularly conscious of--and grateful for--the time we spend together. there are days when we still look at each other, with something like wonder in our faces, hardly believing we're still sitting across from one another.
it reminds me of something i see in our neighborhood, when the sun moves low and gives way to the dark. all along our street and in the park a few blocks down, the teenage contingent finds its way outdoors. some get together with their best friend groups, sitting on the curb or a driveway slab, talking about everything and nothing . or they'll pile onto a park bench, underneath the cedars, or play impromptu soccer in the dust. their energy is almost palpable; they love to be together. and so do the couples, girlfriends and their boys, whispering and giggling in front of their house's gates.
the teenage sisters who live next door often stake their claim in front of our hedge, just out of view from their living room window. with our own windows open to let in the breeze, snippets of banter make their way in, too. they hang out with their boys, wind, rain or shine, like the rest of the neighborhood kids. it's a funny balance for them to strike: that bubble of adolescent intimacy, blocking out the rest of the world, yet outside and in the open, for anyone to see.
i know it's different--that sense of urgency, the feeling that they're all that matters, and the need to be connected. but patricio and i, in our own small way, more than remember how it is. walking to the store, driving to the ranch, or making chile in a spicy-tart sauce, is still sometimes the only thing that matters.