paindecampagne

thoughts on food, culture, and community

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Friday Photo: Café con Piernas, Santiago, Chile

Cafe Haiti, June 2011

Cafe Haiti, June 2011

The following is based from my journal from when I was visiting a friend in Santiago, Chile, on a June Friday in 2011. A version of this excerpt was emailed to my boyfriend Jon on Friday, June 24, 2011.

I searched for café con piernas today. Café con piernas, or “coffee with legs,” is a coffeehouse where patrons stand around a bar with no seats to order espressos made by baristas in push-up bras, skin-tight dresses that barely cover their tushes, and stiletto heels. Some of these cafes are skanky, say the guidebooks, but others are frequented by women as well as men — at least according to Anthony Bourdain. So this afternoon, between wondering about Chile’s surplus of hot dog vendors and visiting Santiago’s Memory and Human Rights Museum, I needed a coffee and ventured out to find one. And I did. I found the well-known café con piernas Cafe Haiti on the Paseo Ahumada near the Plaza de Armas. I stared at the entrance nervously for awhile (taking the picture above while I deliberated), weighing the general disadvantages of committing a social faux-pas while abroad (being socially insensitive, being laughed at and publicly ridiculed) with its benefits (not understanding enough Spanish to know if I was actually being laughed at and publicly ridiculed).  The crowd emptied out of the building all at once, and I walked in before I could stop myself.

Inside was a small room completely walled with mirrors (for extra staring?). Dividing the baristas and the patrons curved a counter mounted on stainless steel poles, elevated so you could also see underneath it.  On top of the counter were enormous, diner-strength canisters of pour-top sugar.  On the patrons’ side of the room, there were freestanding ash trays and nothing else except an empty room and my reflection in six directions. Behind the counter were the espresso machines and two women who were not necessarily classy or pretty but who were effectively enhanced by their clothing.

I walked directly up to one of them, exuding confidence, not unlike a pre-teen boy at his first high school dance.  (Okay, an international pre-teen boy who couldn’t speak the language at his first high school dance.) “Café, por favor?”

Rapidly, I was denied like a pre-teen boy at a high school dance and redirected to a woman in the corner of the room who sat at a small desk with a price list, ticket stubs, and cash register.  Apparently in Chile, one does not simply pay/tip/order/flourish at any bar but does one’s underhanded dealings with a similar woman in the corner. That’s intelligent under some circumstances, but as I scanned my eye down the list of drinks, I felt somewhat like I was visiting the principal to explain my behavior at said high school dance.  The woman scowled.

“Buenos tardes, senora…. espresso, por favor, gracias?” My voice rose at the end, and the woman’s frown deepened. I eyed the list again and pounced on the only drink I did not know.  “No, no, frappa crema. Por favor.” The woman scribbled something on a pad and tapped a few numbers into her keyboard, giving me the total and handing me a ticket stub.

“Gracias,” I said firmly.  I waltzed over to the espresso bar where the curvier, skankier, and somehow prettier barista snatched my stub away. She sighed as if to call me out — you found us on page 245 of the guide book, didn’t you.  I met her eyes.

Freo o caliente?” she asked — hot or cold.

“Um… freo,” I said.

Con vainilla, chocolate, frambuesa...” she continued, and the second barista waved her hand as if to say, “Don’t bother, she doesn’t understand.” But I had already heard the word for “vanilla,” so I blurted it out in her pronunciation:

“Vah-KNEE-yah.”

Van-KNEE-yah?”

“Si. Por favor.”

She turned her back to me and began making my drink. I slid down the counter near the wall and realized I didn’t know what to do with my eyes. I always watch the barista make my drinks at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, but if I watched my barista here, was it assumed I was checking her out? Or was that the point? In the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, I looked at my reflection: my sideways Grove mouth, the freckles intensified by Chile’s thin ozone layer, my warm scarf for the Chilean winter.  I looked at the floor — cream-colored tile, like a diner from the 1960s.  I looked at the woman: dark-haired, solidly built, generously curved.  I looked at myself again: the antithesis of dark-haired, solidly built, and generously curved.

An old, well-dressed man and woman entered the room and ordered espressos, and suddenly my frappa crema was slammed down with a clatter before me.  It was a frothy, milked, vanilla-hinted, cold (not iced) coffee with a mile of whipped cream on top, dusted with a blend of sugar and cocoa powder. It even came with a little glass of agua con gas (carbonated water). Finally, I thought, a sense of normalcy.  I personally believe that water should be complimentary and served without question when you order a coffee — I get too dehydrated otherwise. In America, I’m always the only person I know who orders one espresso and ends up carrying two cups of liquid to my table.  The Cafe Haiti got it right.

I drank the frappa crema slowly, standing by the wall and leaning on the elevated counter, playing with my whipped cream, and eying the patrons who eventually joined the old couple and me: a man with unwashed hair, a businessman in a suit, a worker wearing a hard hat who suspiciously eyed my auburn hair.  By the time I pushed back the dregs of my coffee and left, calling out “gracias” without pronouncing the “s” because no Chilean does, the cafe was rather full with a sense of daily life, and the beautifully-clad women were tamping espressos at full speed.

I walked blindly into the bright street with the confidence of someone who hadn’t a clue what she was doing, but I realized I’d liked it.  It had been damn good coffee, and I’d survived my Spanish. I’d do it again.

— Thursday, June 23, 2011

We, the generation of change, New York City

Gay Pride

Growing up with acceptance, June 2012

Mother and son

Defying stereotypes, June 2012

A rotating canvas of people. A moving stage. Thousands of spectators bonded by patriotism, pride, concern, or support. These words have described every parade I’ve attended, from marching with the Shippensburg High School Band in the Shippensburg Halloween Parade down King Street to rushing onto the street in Avignon, France, to watch protestors demonstrate against France’s signing of the European Union constitution in May 2005. The same energy — forceful, certain, proud, joyful, and sure — was palpable at the NYC Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 24, 2012, which ran the length of Fifth Avenue from 36th Street to the West Village.  Some estimates suggested that the entire Pride Week festival would draw 1.5 million visitors.

This young boy and his mother were standing near the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, both sporting rainbow colors.  I saw the boy first. He was sitting illegally on the barricade (like I was), fingering a rainbow-colored mohawk of a hat.  He put it on and took it off, staring sometimes at the crowd and sometimes at his mother, listless, a little bored.  I didn’t blame him.  Growing up, parades were no fun unless someone was throwing candy — and even if I as a kid had attended a parade that represented the controversial topic of sexual choice, I wouldn’t have noticed (after all, some conservative groups condemn Halloween).  A parade is a parade; any disapproval of the subject would have to be taught. But then I saw the boy’s mom, wearing a black abaya. She waved a flag and intently watched the street. She was not bored; she was there very intentionally.

In two ways, these photos defy conservative expectations, marking both mother and son as symbols of a growing change. First, gay rights are especially supported among individuals under 30 years old, meaning that eventually, acceptance is what our generation will overwhelmingly teach our children.  None of us were conscious of how attending church as a child (if we did) or reciting Bible verses at day camp (if we went) shaped our current being; similarly, the child in this photo will likely grow up respecting homosexuality because of his exposure to it. If this child attended the parade, how many other children were there — 10,000 out of 1.5 million? 100,000?  Will the generation that follows us shake our heads at our prejudice in the same way we shake our head toward racial violence in the 1960s? (Due to rapidly-increasing shifts in attitude, E. J. Graff, author of the op-ed “Will You Marry Me?” in the July/August issue of The American Prospect, expects that same-sex marriage will be granted within less than a generation’s time: “in a decade at most.”)

Second, this photo challenges the notion that Islam is a religion that acts on the overarching oppression of the underrepresented. As in Christianity, there are various interpretations of Islam which hold ranging stances on homosexuality, meaning that this woman’s presence at this rally is interesting, not earth-shattering. “The photo [does show] more diversity among Muslims than this country’s media usually allows,” writes my friend Kara, who has lived in Cairo and Pakistan and blogs on politics and culture. “Islam is portrayed as a monolithic religion which people follow in only one way. But … social-political culture has a lot to do with how religion is manifested–not just the other way around.”

It’s a relief to see several segments of the population who are not typically represented in media — Muslim women and children — showing support for gay pride.  The implications are an America in which we are less afraid of these taboo subjects of religion and love, one in which we address all of these issues to our children.  In attending this rally with her son, this woman simultaneously challenges our assumptions about Islam, sexuality, and gender — to our benefit.

Friday Photo: Sweet Frog frozen yogurt toppings, Mechanicsburg

SweetFrog Yogurt toppings

Sweet Frog yogurt toppings

Ice cream is one of those things that my dad and I have always had in common: he’d come home from working on the farm, and I could always count on him to suggest that ice cream was needed for dessert. (I yet was too young to make a suggestion so bold.)

Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt of Mechanicsburg isn’t exactly locally-made ice cream like that made by Bootlleg Creamery and sold by Cream Cycles, Harrisburg; it’s also not my premium go-to, which is a peanut butter cup hurricane at Kristy’s Whistle Stop, Enola. And I admit that any of this barely comes close to a Magnum ice cream bar.

However, Sweet Frog does fulfill a childhood dream in a Willy Wanka kind of way. Surrounded by the bright pinks and greens of the building’s interior, I nearly skipped to the wall of frozen-yogurt pumps with which you serve yourself flavors that range from thin mint to pomegranate-raspberry, and I stared (with Christmas-day excitement)  at the bar of toppings that seemed to stretch to eternity.

Should I add M&Ms, chocolate sauce, and mini marshmallows to my fro-yo? Or should I try crushed peanut butter cups and swirl my spoon a bunch to make my own hurricane? What are mango poppers?  Are these really stroopwafel crumbs from Stroopies of Lancaster? (The answer is yes.)  Do I dare sprinkle on some Fruity Pebbles cereal topped with fresh strawberries? What am I saying? I hate Fruity Pebbles! What if somebody sees…?

This week’s Friday Photo is to color and limitless childhood imagination.

Sweet Frog, Mechanicsburg
6416 Carlisle Pike Suite 1100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
(717) 697-4301

Lancaster company makes Dutch stroopwafel cookies

Sroopwafels

Chocolate-dipped stroopwafel

Stroopwafels are traditional Dutch cookies that are comprised of light syrup pressed between two pie-crust thin, slightly-spiced waffles (the name literally named “syrup waffle”).  I’m familiar with this cookie because my aunt Colleen brings packs of them with each visit home to Shippensburg from the Netherlands (they’re somewhat of a family obsession), and when I visited Europe with my brother Chris when I was 15, we ate a palm-sized stroopwafel hot off a cast-iron griddle in an open-air Dutch market.

I was ecstatic when I discovered Stroopies, a Lancaster-based company that caught onto the trend of stroopwafels in America and now makes their version of the famed Dutch cookie. Here, you can buy two kinds of stroopwafels — either traditional (plain) or dipped with an American-sized portion of decadent dark chocolate. (My Dutch family may never let me visit again if I admit this, but I always buy the one with the chocolate.)

To eat a stroopwafel, tradition mandates that you first rest the cookie on the top of a hot cup of koffee or thee (tea) for a few seconds to gently heat the cookie and the syrup, as shown in the photo above.  After heating, the syrup loosens along with the cookie’s flavors of caramel, hazelnut, and cinnamon.  In the case of the chocolate-dipped stroopwafel, the deep, slightly-warmed chocolate melts into a gooey mess that complements the cookie’s spice.

I love stroopwafels because they encompass what I appreciate about Holland: they are cookies that you’re meant to take time eating. My Dutch uncle, as hard-working as my father, owns a business and works in a carpenter’s shop at his home, but he never fails to come inside mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a cup of coffee, a bit of conversation, and occasionally a slice of cake.  Similarly, it seems to me that you can’t eat a stroopwafel on the run; you have to sit down with it, wait for the coffee to be brewed, and allowed the cookie to awaken.

I buy my stroopwafels individually or in packs each time I visit Folklore Coffee & Company in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, but Stroopies are also available from a variety of local cafes and businesses including Groff’s Candies, Lancaster, and the Hershey Lodge, Hershey.

Stroopies have been profiled and approved by the Netherlands-America Association of Delaware Valley, Inc. in their spring 2012 newsletter, De Brug.

Folklore Coffee & Company
1 North Market Street
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

Groff’s Candies
3587 Blue Lock Road
Lancaster, PA 17603

Hershey Lodge
325 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033

Friday Photo: Morning farm chores

loading a wagon, 2010

Morning feeding, October 2010

Our dairy farm in Shippensburg is operated from roughly 2:30 AM to 6 PM, depending on the day and the season. When I worked on the farm, my chores included “chasing in” the cows on Thursdays (translation: I herded the cows into be milked, and my siblings and cousins were responsible for the same job on the other days of the week), milking, cleaning, unloading hay and straw, feeding calves, scraping the barnyard, and helping to pick and sell sweet corn. This list of chores is small compared the work that running a farm actually requires.

Continuing my thoughts on my dad for Father’s Day, this photo depicts my father filling a wagon with silage, preparing to feed the cows their morning meal. I love this picture for the shadow and morning sunshine and the waterfall of silage that curtains my dad’s view.

Strongly anchored yet rolling forward: A Father’s Day tribute

Shippensburg 2012

Shippensburg 2012

It’s 9:30 PM on a warm evening in June, and my father is yawning in the bright circle of light surrounding my parents’ kitchen table. I’m wearing an ill-fitted T-shirt the color of the spring fields beyond our house, and I’m staring out the darkened windows and seeing nothing but our reflection: me seated with no make-up, chin cupped in my palm with one elbow on the green tablecloth; my father, leaning back across from me, silver-haired and tired.

“Did you milk this morning?” I asked, meaning: “How many hours have you been awake?”

This is a normal question. I’ve long since lost count of which morning is his to wake up at 2 AM or which morning is my uncle Jeff’s, but the question still is always on my mind, charting the status of the man who, at age 59, still works harder than me.

Dairy farming runs in the blood, he says. Our farm is on the western edge of Shippensburg and was purchased by my stern great-grandfather Edward sometime around World War I.  After that, the farm was bought and run by Edward’s third youngest boy Walter and his wife Anna, who gave birth to three daughters and two sons that could run the farm solo by the time Daddy was 16.  Today, the farm is still run by my dad and my uncle Jeff and is home to 230 milk cows, one of the first carousel-style milking parlors to be installed in Franklin County, and 425 acres of wheat, barley, alfalfa, and corn. I used to sit to Daddy’s left at mealtimes and hold his hand for the prayer, tracing the 425 acres in his calluses.

“Could I take you out to breakfast tomorrow for Father’s Day?” I ask, and Daddy barely manages a smile.

“Breakfast? Sure, that would be nice.”

*

The next morning, I drive us into the Shippensburg Select Diner that sits overlooking the square.  “Let’s sit near the window. I like to see the world moving,” says Daddy, looking slightly rested.

“So do I,” I say.  I lead him to the booth in the front corner, but he remains standing, watching a tractor and disk-bine being driven up King Street. He laughs. “That’s Tom Elliot,” he says.  “See, I know people already.”

Breakfasts always make me think of him, whether I want to or not: dippy eggs with toast and mint tea, pancakes and crisped bacon.  Early mornings on the farm have a certain way of spiking hunger at a speed more violent than the sunrise, and so we both know my mother’s repertoire of breakfast foods by heart: French toast made from homemade bread, Cream of Wheat with brown sugar and raisins, scrambled eggs stretched with a dash of tap water.  I have been off the farm a decade, but I still cannot smell bacon in the morning without being conscious of whose early-morning labor I butter onto my bread.

The waitress brings us coffee, and we both order omelets, the one breakfast food my mom rarely makes.  Daddy begins to talk about the roofs that the farm just replaced due to the same storm in the spring of 2011 that downed a tree one block away from my Harrisburg apartment; he explains the adjustments made to the loafing barn to increase air circulation, and he takes a call from someone about a new truck the farm may want to buy.

He’s a solid businessman, keenly aware of circumstance and open to change. I realize I am not. I cling to the familiar as if it were the branches of my favorite maple tree; I revere tradition like the first picking of summer sweet corn. The farm taught me the solidness of the seasons, the regularity of milking rhythms that thump through the pumps in the milking parlor, but life by definition is different when it hinges on the measure of the rainfall or the storms that do or do not pass you by.

“It sounds like you’ve done a good job at teaching,” Daddy says, and I look at him.  “Peggy’s told me what your students said.”  I didn’t exactly intend for this conversation to be about me.  He’s chewing on toast slowly and without jelly because we both know it’s inferior to my mom’s homemade strawberry jam. “You’re going to love grad school.  It’s everything you’re interested in. You’re curious, you’re interested in new people, new things, new ideas. It’s going to be great for you.”

I notice suddenly that he’s wearing the same worn-blue sweatshirt that he worked in when I was in high school.  In my Harrisburg apartment, I still have an old pair of sneakers that I threw away then dug right out of the trash and a hoodie that I purchased in 1999 with the threadbare cuffs, and I save these things in case I have a pasture that I need to run through or a flowerbed I need to dig. But at this point in my life, I have no fields or flowerbeds. I don’t even have a yard. I am ashamed of myself, but my father is not.

“You have to keep trying because you never know what you might be,” Daddy continues. I realize that he’s also talking about himself — the man who left college to plant fields, who carried the burden of the family’s land, who joined the board of directors of Adams Electric Cooperative and is now serving as board president. I remembered when they asked him to lead — he was hesitant.  He is a man comforted by open fields and by silence, the same silence that was always between us when we milked together or went out for ice cream at Diffy’s or made butter-soaked air-popped popcorn to watch movies with. But he went forward.

During the early years as board president, I helped to edit his annual meeting speeches and applauded for him when he stood on stage, looking crisp and regal in a new suit. I now meet him sometimes in Harrisburg for dinner after his legislative meetings where neither of us smell like fresh air or open spaces, and we talk about his travels with Adams Electric to meetings in California, Costa Rica, Texas.  He listens as I speak about teaching high school and traveling to France, Trinidad, and Chile, and he asks questions that have nothing to do with milk prices and mastitis. He is my father of the cornfield, but he carries with him the sense that, in each moment, he is where he needs to be. Now he’s looking at me across the table with eyes as blue as cloudless skies, overlooking the fried potatoes that I cannot finish, and giving permission to do the same.

And I wonder if he knows all the things I’ve never told him: that when I wake up early to write I still think of him, or that when I got into the University of Pittsburgh he was the first person I called, or that my curiosity in the world is only possible because of the wide open pastures beyond our farmhouse, strongly anchored yet rolling forward toward the mountains.

Friday Photo: Truffled Cauliflower, Village Whiskey, Philadelphia

Truffled cauliflower, whipped ricotta, and olive tapenade, 2012

Truffled cauliflower, whipped ricotta, and black olive tapenade at the Village Whiskey, Philadelphia, 2012

Due to my affinity with all things doused in vinegar, I was absolutely thrilled to return to the Village Whiskey, a Prohibition-style bar near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia with gourmet burgers, hearty fries, and pickled vegetables. I love to eat pickled vegetables in the winter because they preserve a home-grown taste reminiscent of warmer days, but their bright colors, tart pucker, and texture also make them the perfect celebration of summer.

Village Whiskey’s truffled cauliflower ($8) consists of bite-sized pieces of one of my least favorite vegetables that have been soaked in a brine of vinegar and sugar for at least 10 days, placed on a bed of sweet pickled carrot, and swirled with truffle oil. This pairing is perfectly balanced: the cauliflower is bright and acidic and crowned with the rich oil; the airy whipped ricotta coats your mouth to give way to the deep oiliness of the fresh tapenade. Even the texture is balanced: crisp vegetables on crisply-toasted slices of sourdough contrasting with creamy cheese and the finely chopped olives.

Also excellent small plates at the Village Whiskey are the herbed cherry tomatoes ($7) and the classic deviled eggs ($3).

Village Whiskey
118 South 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-1088

Sunday-Monday: 11:30am – 11:00pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30am – 12:00am
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am – 1:00am

Magnum ice cream bars, Compiègne, France

I used to think I was accustomed to heat from growing up on the farm and unloading hay bales in high-barn heat, but that was nothing compared to this.  It was July 2010, and I was backpacking along the Western Front of World War I with my companion Lynn.  The trip consisted of walking for 10 or so miles a day and visiting still-flat battlefields, towns that had been razed, graveyards of boys younger than I — a cultural experience which taught me that people behave differently toward each other when war took place in their backyard — but I was also unprepared for the heat and France’s lack of air conditioning.  On the farm, you could work for a handful of hours then come inside to stand in front of fans spinning behind screened-in windows, but in the north of France, I could find no relief.  We would stop for a baguette sandwich at a brasserie — no air conditioning.  We’d walk into a small store selling fruits and vegetables at the end of town — only the doors were propped open.  In Compiègne, we stayed two nights in a small hostel above the Rue du General Leclerc with two windows open to a breeze which did not exist, and each night I wrapped the sheet around my knees and willed myself not to move so that I’d become cool enough to sleep.

On July 9, Lynn and I biked to the forest where the Armistice was signed that had ended World War I.  The cool of the forest and the breeze of biking brought a bit of relief, but on the way home, the heat flamed off the pavement, and my feet sweated so much in my flat shoes that I could barely keep them from falling off.  I didn’t know what to do.  I remember thinking vaguely that people who had lived before the dawn of air conditioning had survived before.

“We stopped by the river, ditched our bikes in the shade, and laid down in the grass with our hats over our faces like an impressionist painting,” I wrote in my journal on July 9.  “I was so hot that it almost was painful to move.  A slow breeze pushed the air along. A father and son fished to our left.  Downstream, the air was filled with splashes and children’s screams.  We biked reluctantly back into town and bought two chocolate ice cream Popsicles and ate them slowly in the shade. We did not talk — I was too hot to. The chocolate melted thickly and gagged in my throat, and my body oozed with it.  For the first time in life, I sucked on the ice cream, drop after drop, because I needed to savor.”

When there are no easy options to becoming cold, you have to resort to the techniques of older times: lemonade, sprinklers, and swimming pools. For Lynn and me, this meant that we’d eventually stand up and bike to a French store called a Monoprix and linger by the refrigerated cheese section, me carrying a 4-pack of yogurt around on my arm that I never intended to buy and rubbing pinches of salted ice from the fish display on the back of my neck.

But I will most remember the Magnum ice cream bars, Belgian chocolate ice cream bars which were recently introduced to the US, and how Lynn and I had shared ice cream not just on that day but also on others: ice cream (after we’d tasted the famed, monk-brewed beers) at the Abbaye de St. Sixtus outside of Westvleteren, Belgium; ice cream that we ate on the edge of a French small town that I no longer remember, ice cream in Albert, France, after touring the small but good Somme 1916 Trench Museum.

A few days ago, I ate a Magnum double chocolate bar, purchased from Target, anticlimactically in my apartment after a few solid hours of cleaning.  This time, it was more of an indulgence than a method of cooling down — thick chocolate ice cream with fudge rimmed with a double wall of Belgian chocolate. However, when I bit into the bar to test the chocolate by its crunch, I could still hear the echo of the gravel beneath our hiking boots.

Albert, France, July 2010

Albert, France, July 2010

Friday Photo: Choir directing and cultural translation

Graduation choir 2012

When I tell my students that I’m resigning, they often ask what I am doing next.  Higher education of any kind is not necessarily easy for them to imagine, and I’ve gotten a few vague questions about what I’m really going to be doing. Am I going to be reading stuff in another language?  Am I going to be translating?  The answer is yes, in part.  However, I can answer to them that I already have been translating and reading languages as I’ve taught in my mother tongue.  This kind of translation has not been from French into English but from life into life, comprehension into comprehension. Translation is my definition of teaching.

The first step to literary translation is to become very familiar with the source text that you are working from so that you can decipher the meaning of not just individual words but also of complex thoughts.  I took one translation class at Susquehanna University in 2007 and learned that translating is a very slow and tedious process, one that requires much more patience with the nuances of both languages than I’d thought.

Teaching is the same way.  When I was given the “bad kid” as a partner in math class to tutor in fifth grade, my mother gave me great advice: Teaching is going from the known to the unknown. With teaching, you also have to figure out where a person is, understand the source, before you can move him further.

Part of my duties as a high school teacher included working with the graduation choir to explain music to students who did not read notes, a task which required the use of words such as “faster” and “slower” or “higher” and “lower” to explain the complex language of pitch, rhythm, and meter.  We rehearsed for an hour twice a week and performed selections from 9 songs from complete memory by the end of May.  The choir can only sing in melody, and some of the boys could barely sing at all, but after the performance when the students rushed up to ask, “How did we do?” with shining eyes, my answer was always honest and positive — that they’d amazed me, because they had.  We had translated music, which is not easy, and they had translated the music to a live audience — even harder.

I’d like to think that working as a teacher, working with a choir, and translating are all one in the same — taking the time with person, an idea, a concept, a text, and simply moving it to something where the meaning is the same but broader. Bolder. New.

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