Monday, September 17, 2012
A Weekend in the Country Up North
We took the train from the city together, clutching cans of cold beer, admiring a terrain quaint and foreign and exotic to us, the other passengers silently reading the evening papers, or just sitting and staring, also silently. Excited and jovial, juvenile, we drink and we laugh, reminisce of the times when we first met, thrust together in various social circumstances at university, bizarre or drunken or stereotypically banal. Now, we are all old friends. Steel and stone towers are left behind, we ride atop rolling green hills and beside shores of water. Away, an escape, for a few days, we will be invited guests at the home of our mutual friend. She meets us at the train station and we drive the final miles to a house, tucked back from the road amidst an arsenal of tall trees.
Saturday morning, a slow saunter to the main square, a carnival of canvas tents, the town market, littered with vendors and farmers and patrons. One woman sells lemonade, sugared and warming in the bright sun. We fill our arms and our bags with food, with broccoli and carrots and onions, with heavy cheeses, with loaves of crusted bread.
That evening, we bask in the cacophony of crickets and larger, more ominous creatures, invisible and hidden in the brush beyond the safeguard of our screened porch confines. We drink wine, bottles passing between hands, among friends, emptying. Three, then four, then five bottles collect, sharing tales of hapless professionalism, remembering when and why and who, a time younger and more fresh, still happy and foolish.
Only friends so close could select their dinner, victims waiting in a tank, and prepare it together, from death to delicacy. A bag of bodies suffocating, entangled with one another, a web of chitin and tasty morsels.
Snapping off claws, cracking open at the crease the hard exoskeleton, to slurp out rare and sweet white meat stowed away with in, a meal of crustaceans is a meal that should be consumed with friends, ones you love, seek solace in. It is messy, butter and other fluids dripping between our fingers. We wash it all down with more wine.
Warm from the oven, we fill the last few crevices of our stomachs with berry pie, dipped in a creamy homemade ice cream. After devouring our bounty, continuing with our wine, we form a large circle, play charades, a parlor game centuries old, still engaging and new.
Sunday morning and then afternoon come quickly, and again it is time for the train ride through hills and fields and green, back to an environment more innate and familiar. Exhausted, this ride is quiet, each of us dozing or idly flipping through magazines and books, the air pure with contentment.