Friday, June 26, 2009

in the groove

Now and then a day comes along where everything not only seems to go well, but the going seems preordained.

That is how Thursday felt.

Jiggs gave me one of the nicest presents he can extend. He let me sleep in past 8.

No rustling on his bed. No sharp woof to tell me it was time to get up. No klaxon bark warning that horses -- and who knows what other types of invaders -- are on the beach.

Today was the day I had planned on driving to Manzanillo to refill Jiggs's medication. He was originally scheduled to go along with me to have two growths on his neck removed. But he inadvertently consumed some sea water (a tale soon to be related), and was suffering from the gastric Big D.

Instead, I took him for a walk around the block. A walk that he willingly extended to several blocks. We stopped and talked with neighbors -- me in my halting Spanish, he in his fluent Doggish. Between the two of us, we enjoyed fresh air, aerobic exercise, and a nice bout of neighborliness.

Then I was off to Manzanillo. The one-hour drive can be somewhat monotonous. There is little to differentiate the few villages between here and there. Today was different. There was something new to see at each village. And I had an open road without the usual combination of slow cars and tailgaters.

I stopped at Mailboxes, Etc. and picked up the two latest editions of The Economist. They are now coming directly to that address. It also means something informative to read between my Spanish studies.

But this topped my day. I stopped in Wal-Mart to pick up a few grocery items I cannot find elsewhere. I usually do not venture near the fruit section. Good fruit I can get in Melaque.

But a perforated bag caught my eye. It looked like cherries. Bing cherries from the Pacific Northwest.

My favorite food on the planet is fresh cherries. The season in Oregon runs from June through August. And local cherries are available the entire season -- in Salem. I have been known to eat three pounds within an hour.

For me, they are the ultimate comfort food. They bring back memories of sitting in my grandmother's tree and eating cherries until I was ready to drop like some ripe -- cherry, I guess. Or driving to The Dalles with a woman I am glad I did not marry to buy a huge bag of cherries for $.50 a pound. Or the simple joy of eating cherries in my hot tub.

There was no price tag on the cherries. No surprise. They were a specialty offering. And there were only two bags. I really wanted to buy both. Instead, I showed some restraint, and grabbed just one.

When the cashier rang up the cherries, she looked at her screen. Looked at the bag. Matched the bar code numbers. And looked rather sheepish.

Almost exactly 1 kilo. Total = $161.21. Pesos, mind you. Not USD.

I will not bother with the official exchange rate and the kilo to pounds conversion, but we are talking about $6 to $7 a pound for cherries.

And I did not flinch. This was a luxury purchase. The big question was whether they were truly fresh. The biggest question was how long they would last.

I could not wait to get them home for a bleach bath. I started on the first before I was out of the parking lot.

Perfect. Juicy. Firm. With that hint of berry in good quality Bing cherries.

As to how long they lasted -- they almost did not make it home. Once again, the drive was perfect. But it was far too easy to get into the rhythm of eating the cherries one by one and reflecting on the many good times I have had centered around this noblest of all fruits.

And I now have one more experience to add to the list.

I am almost positive that I will not see any further cherries this season. And that may be just as well.

Thursday was one of those practically perfect in every way days. It would be a shame to devalue it with repetition.

Of course, if you know where any cherries are for sale, I do travel.


Chrissy y Keith said...

We bought our first bag of the season 2 days ago. Keith and I both grew up in the Pacific NW, so like you, Bing Cherry's are an annual ritual. Our oldest daughter was born in The Dalles.

Darrel said...

showed more restraint then you. I only bought 2 pounds (and ate them). My favorite vendor (a Mexican that drives his pickup to Hood River twice a week and buys from the orchards) was set up in front of Home Depot. The cheery season is off to a late start because of all the rain in early June. I’m glad you got a chance to partake in one of the favorite rituals of summer (eating Bing cherries until you can’t).

Al said...

My grandmother also had a cherry tree, on Church Street in Salem. A big Royal Ann which we climbed to reach the fruit. My strongest memory of them is from when I was about 10. We had picked some to take home with us and my siblings and I ate a whole grocery bag on the trip. Talk about the "gastric big D"!

For me, Hood strawberries are just above cherries as my favorite summer food. (Until, maybe, raspberries are ripe.) Yen went in to get a few baskets yesterday and came back with a flat, because she was told it was the last day.

Did you forget, when you decided to move, that you would be giving up Oregon fruit?

1st Mate said...

Steve - you do seem to be getting into the flow of life in Mexico. Getting to know your neighbors, finding those special treats you once took for granted, finding your way around. And I'm so glad Jiggs is so much better.

Paty said...

I miss NW cherries, too, but they seem to be cheaper here in Chapala. Wonder why? I rinse them but do not treat them to a Microdyne bath. Remember where they came from and why the "bath" in the first place. Same with fat, juicy black grapes from Chile.

Constantino said...

And will we see little cherry trees off the side of the road in a year or so?

Glad to hear that Jiggs is do better, better enough to enjoy some salt water, hopefully without a animal carcass of some sort.

The mental picture of you sitting in a hot tub eating cherries is riveting.
I hope you have more engaging days to report on....especially after a "crushing" moment..

Larry in Mazatlan said...

Ha! After that many fresh cherries you may join Jiggs in the "Big D."


Anonymous said...

Run, Forrest, run!

Steve Cotton said...

Chrissy -- I think I would pick a bowl of cherries over a t-bone steak any day. And these were fantastic.

Darrel -- Too bad you could not give Roy a suit case full to bring down.

Al -- I knew I would be giving up cherries. Or, at least, that they would not be readily available. Over all, it was still a good trade.

1st Mate -- I may be falling into a comfort cycle too early. Today I had planned on driving Jiggs over to La Mnzanilla, but here I am working on the computer and listening to the news. The summer weather will simply be too hot to do get out and about before long. So, off I go.

Paty -- Who knows how some imports get priced? Wal-Mart may have a formula that would make sense only to an accountant. Whatever the price, a small bag was worth buying. I certainly would not do it daily.

Constantino -- I suspect we will be discussing more observations and less introspection in the future.

Larry -- I seem to have inherited an extremely stable digestive track. And cherries can put it to the test.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Well, thank you, I think.

Anonymous said...

uh, $161.21 pesos comes out to $12.21 American doesn't it? Sure hope you enjoyed those cherished those cherries!

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Depending on the exchange rate of my peso purchase, that sounds about correct. And then divide by 2.2 to get to pounds and it comes out to $5.55 per pound. I guess that is a bit less than my original estimate -- as so often happens when guessing about calculations. I am ready to drive back to buy another bag.(I still have a tendency to tghink of the exchange rae as 10 to 1. It saves me from buying a lot of things.)

Jonna said...

We get cherries from Oregon or Wash here this time every year, I've never bothered to buy any. I'm sure they are more expensive because they are imported but they just aren't something I like enough to buy imported. Especially with so much really good tropical fruit, I'd much rather have a mango. I also pass on the strawberries, but I did splurge twice on the baskets of raspberries and I made ice cream with them both times - yum!

It's a little soon in your move to be craving the tastes of home I think.

Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- Cherries are more of an addiction for me than a craving. Think nicotine. I took my nephew to London for his high school graduation gift. We passed a fruit stand selling French cherries, and we bought several pounds. I agree with you about the local fruits, though. I have eaten more fresh mango and pineapple here than I have in my life. I want to hone my Spanish to the point where I can get some background from the fruit stand guy about some fruits and vegetables I otherwise would not try. If I simply had a name, I could do a little research on my own. Maybe I could take photographs and start a "name that vegetable" post. But I still need to learn more Spanish.

glorv1 said...

I love cherries too. We planted two trees, one bing and the other I can't remember. Although this was their first year, they did give us a few cherries and I look forward to next year and a nice full tree of cherries. Steve be sure you don't give cherries to Mr. Jiggs. They can't eat stuff like that. We have to take good care of "The Boss." :) Have a great weekend, take care. By the way, good to hear that you are getting out and doing "stuff."

Jonna said...

Yes, take pictures and post them. A lot of us here have blogged about different fruits and I'm sure someone can identify it and tell you how it tastes.

Billie said...

Steve, I understand paying whatever it takes for something you really, really want to eat. Ever once in a while it happens at our house too.

Joanne said...

Just ask the fruit stand guy what something is, while pointing at it or picking it up. The ladies at my favourite fruit stand tell me the name and then offer me a taste. If I don't like it, I don't have to buy it. If I like it, then I buy. They are great about it and I get to learn some new tastes. They give me a little background info too and tell me if it to be eaten raw or cooked.

Anonymous said...

find happiness in little things!
It might be answer to your journey?
Take care

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Oh I would have bought both bags! Naughty girl that I am. I love these cherries as well!

Babs said...

Bing cherries have always been a favorite of mine also. We had a cherry tree in the backyard in Chicago as a little girl....have no idea what they were, but Mom made a lot of stuff with bing maybe. Just plain cherries are wonderful but also Bing ice cream, etc.etc.etc. is fab!
Glad you had your treat.

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- Good luck on the cherry trees. See. There is a good reason to stay in one place: to harvest the fruits of your labor. But you already knew that. Jiggs does not get cherries. He gets nothing but his dry dog food -- veterinarian's orders. When he was young, the neighbor's tree would drop plums in our back yard, where they fermented. Jiggs loved them. Now, he is on the wagon.

Jonna -- Your blog is what put the notion in my head. That is where I learned about dragon fruit. I am still looking for it here.

Billie -- There are very few foods that fall in that category for me. But cherries top the list.

Joanne -- I have discovered that most of the vegetables and fruits have nicknames here. And none of the tables are labeled. The only fellows around are at the front registers, usually with a long line of customers. (I go on fresh delivery morning.) I should stop by when the fresh stuff is gone and have my chat then. But I will need a lot more Spanish before I get to that conversation.

Min -- Good advice. That is part of my post tomorrow.

AMM -- Now that they are gone, I wish I had bought the second bag. Maybe there will be a new shipment when I take Jiggs in for surgery on Thursday.

Babs -- I am not big on ice cream. But Baskin-Robbins has a flavor called Cherries Jubilee that is my favorite. With large hunks of Bing cherries embedded. I know I will not find any of that in Mexico.

BoBo's Mom said...

"Inadvertently consumed"?? Goldens do not tend to do things inadvertently....esp. when it comes to things they are not supposed to consumed. I hope he's feeling better.

Steve Cotton said...

BoBo's Mom -- He was rolled by a sneak wave while he was rolling on the beach. He must have taken quite a gulp. I didn't realize that until he started clearing his digestive track.

Leslie Limon said...

I'm so jealous! I haven't eaten cherries in 8 years! But so happy that you indulged yourself! Price really doesn't matter when it's something you really want and won't always be available. Every May, we spend about 100 pesos every other day on pitayas. (Dragon fruit that is only available in May.)

Howard said...

Steve: When I saw the opening photo I was sure you were going to say something about life not being a bowl of cherries. But perhaps it is. We all rejoice in the richness of remembered sensations - and perhaps we all pay over the odds in our attempts to recall them. Food for thought?

Steve Cotton said...

Leslie -- I just missed the pitaya season. There as a street vendor selling them in Melaque, but I missed him each time I looked. Next year.

Howard -- Message received.

Islagringo said...

I think you have just experienced one of the joys of living in Mexico. The simple, unexpected little things that can mean so much to us.

Steve Cotton said...

Islandgringo -- Small pleasures, indeed.

Laurie said...

I am a native of a different clime. I got excited over okra in the Walmart in Tegu this week. I can feel when it's time for okra gumbo in my bones. And my bones are speaking!

Anonymous said...

When I was over at Bend I bought bag of cherries. With each juicy bite, I thought of you and wondered if you would be able to get any down there.

The cherry tree at home was a Lambert, but most people called it a Bing. I always thought it was just a step ahead of a Bing.

I, too remember climbing the tree and eating cherries to my hearts content.

Dad would stand a tall straight ladder up to reach the high branches. Since I was the youngest, I would climb the ladder and pick the ripe cherries. I was never scared of being on a ladder without any brace on it because my dad was holding it. His hold would be firm and secure.


Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- Just goes to prove that there is a taste for everything.

Mom -- Nice tribute to Grandpa. (I knew it was a Lambert, but Bing works better in the tale.)