Thursday, September 23, 2010

Magic Beans: Mourning in America

Frijoles are the fruit of the poor.  The meat of the poverty striken and downtrodden.

As a child I came to understand that Beans were magic.  I was Jack with his golden goose.  Magic beans brought a richness of experience to my young soul.

When the rooster woke me at the crack of dawn in Mexico I watched my handsome cowboy uncles sit down to a breakfast of frijoles, tortillas and strong coffee.  I saw how the food sustained them for hours as they milked cows, rode horses and slaughtered chickens.

I saw how women poured the juice from a pot of beans into the bottles of their infants and toddlers. 

On the mornings I found myself waking in an abobe home with dirt floors and beans on the table I knew magic would occur that day. 

The birth of a baby meant pots of beans.  The quinceanera of a cousin or friend would bring with it the killing of a cow and frijoles as the perfect compliment.

Every funeral I attended with a body openly displayed in the front room offered legumes as solace.

One morning I awoke to find a child in Turicachi had been killed by an enormous truck.  The boy had run into the street chasing after his ball and been struck.  I was told the news at breakfast.

"Let's go see his body," said my cousn Blanca using her tortilla to scoop the smooth food from her plate.

"Vamos," I replied.

As we entered the house I looked at the small casket before me.  It was closed save a small square above the boy's face where a pane of glass seperated his little frame from the rest of us.

When I gathered the strength to peer in I did not see the boy.  Instead my own refelection stared back at me.  I gasped audibly.  I felt badly for my reaction.  His mother and sisters watched me closely in their sorrow. 

I had tried to look death in the face.  Death had been waiting to return the favor.  Earthly sleep eventually finds us all.  What a lesson to learn at 8 years of age!

Today I unpacked my pantry.  I found an extensive collection of beans.  My mind was filled with the memories throughout my life that have centered on this staple.

I didn't realize as a child beans were consumed primarily by the poor.  I was rich.  I had the world at my fingertips.  I chased baby chicks and had their mother fly at me in a rage.  I rode donkeys and fell off into piles of warm manure.  I bathed in a creek in only my panties.  I milked cows.  I climbed trees.  I was sustained through all of these activies by a hearty morning meal. 

Given the current economic state of our country I can see I will be finding creative ways to present the frijolitos I relished as a child to my own family.

Today I ran across an ad campaigning for the Republicans.  America In Mourning.

So many Americans are having to tighten their belts.  They are having to eat beans where they once dined on prime rib and shrimp. 

Americans are sad.  Anti-depressants are being doled out by the truck loads.  People are discouraged.  Americans are being humbled against their wills.

Perhaps, however, there is hope for the emotional state of our nation.  Perhaps we will come to see that the truly rich are those who can cling to happiness in the dark.  The rich in spirit and experience will inherit the Earth.