Small gifts

…are constant and accumulate like welcome raindrops.

For one, we are officially acculturated: we have a machete by the door. It is for harvesting and opening a way through the woods, but I use it to crack open pieces of sugar cane to chew. I don’t know how to wield it, but it sure looks authentic leaning against the wall.

Two: the old cabina is now square and stable. It used to both tilt downhill and sag in the middle, supported by posts of dubious durability. So one hot afternoon, Johnathan jacked it up with hand tools. We stood in the yard and watched; we obviously couldn’t be inside at this point, and to watch someone else work skillfully while you do nothing is very satisfying. Replacing a rotting beam with a massive hardwood trunk from the forest, Johnathan tugged the green tarp out of his way and let it fall to the ground. I didn’t have time to stop him; now the good wren and her babies were homeless. But another gift: instantly, she was about her business. She flitted around the house two or three times. When we peeked into the fold where the nest had been, it was empty but for one dead chick, who must have hatched too late from the last egg. Mama Wren had carried her brood in her beak, one by one, to a safer spot, which she had chosen in a split second. We see less of them now, but that is probably better. So, three.

And four, five, six, why even count: electric fans, hummingbirds, shy blue crabs, morning rain.

Recreating the images on promotional literature by walking barefoot at sunset on the beach.

Glimpsing a basilisk lizard sprinting across the road on its hind legs, which spin like frantic pinwheels, like a cartoon. (It is also called the Jesus Christ lizard, because it can run the same way across rivers.)

The tile mosaics that festoon any surface in need of bright color. They are declarations of the worthiness of humble spaces. Assertions that one doesn’t need to be professional to make objects beautiful. Visual exclamations of positivity, reuse, and attention to small things.

This gift, described by J.: “I made an iced mocha this morning and realized everything I put in it was local: Milk, Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee, Ice. I actually know the farmers that produced the milk and chocolate. That’s pretty neat, I think.” It was not only neat in terms of sustainability, it was the most frothy and delicious drink ever. Thanks, mi amor!

And finally, the friendly Nicaraguan family whose soda (diner) we love. The little boy watched “Cars” dubbed into Spanish from the lunch counter while his mother cooked on the other side. His father returned home from errands and we spoke of his homeland and its thick, grainy drinks, tiste, pinolillo, points of national pride. After our meal was served, the parents sat at the other table (yes, there were just two tables) and bowed their heads for a minute before eating their own lunches. It felt familial and intimate. If it happens again I think I might ask if we could push our tables together. They wished us well, and we promised to come back someday for a slice of tres leches queque and a glass of tiste. We did not say so, but we will also come back for their gift of kindness.

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