Friday, January 26, 2007

Summer Cleaning

Summer in Salvador is an interesting time. First comes Christmas which compared to every other holiday seems quite low-key. New Year's is a much bigger time; many people travel for the holiday. Then comes January. In a nutshell, Brazilian labor laws guarantee workers one month of paid vacation a year and it seems like most people choose to take that month in January. Vacation time means travel and the majority head to the interior, which basically means "any place in the state of Bahia except for Salvador". When you ask people where they are headed, you have the opportunity to learn many obscure place names, all of which are either Catholic (St. Something-Or-Other), Indian (like Jaguaquara) or some combination of the two. When you ask for further details about the town, you inevitably receive an open invitation to come with them some time and for a brief second you imagine yourself enjoying the summer in a small city in rural Brazil. Then you realize that your friend was just being polite and even if the invitation was sincere, it would involve many, many hours in the car on horrible roads to arrive at a place that has neither a beach nor a mall. But they have family in that town and will have a wonderful time.

The people that stay in town slave away, making up for the lost labor force. HA! On the contrary, the people that stay in town are gearing up for Carnaval. The various acts for Carnaval start holding weekly rehearsals that are open to the public. This week is the largest event of the summer outside of Carnaval: the Festival do VerĂ£o (Festival of Summer). It's held out at the exhibition grounds and is a sight to behold. (We have never actually gone but can watch it on television every night from the comfort of our home.) It's many of the acts that will perform at Carnaval, many popular performers from other genres of Brazilian music and some international acts. (One of the highlights this year was Ben Harper.) The festival will end this weekend, leaving us with only a couple of weeks until Carnaval.

All of this fun means that it is impossible to get anything done. And so here I am, at home, cleaning out my cupboards. When I was a girl, I used to love cleaning out and organizing my mom's cupboards. Yes, I understand that makes me odd but I have never shyed away from that label. Somehow, though, when it's your own cupboards it's not as fun. I pulled out my spices checking their expiration dates. As I got to some of the more obscure ones, I was reminded of my ambitions when I bought them. That's right! I think. I was going to start cooking more Indian food. Oh, these are the seasonings for that recipe that I thought looked so good! And so on. As I fill my trash with forgotten food items, I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt. Every day, one of our building's custodians comes by to pick up our trash. To him, it will look like just another example of decadence among the rich. More wasted food. More money thrown away. When I stop to think about it, I'll have to agree with him. It's so easy to be tempted, as I walk through the grocery store or look through cookbooks, by dreams of what I might do or how I would like my life to be. I spend a couple of dollars here, a couple of dollars there, thinking that even if I never make it, it's really not that much money down the drain. But as I look at my full trash can, I realize the effects of that attitude. I'm able to put a total on all of that wishful thinking and it is embarrassing. I want to be a good steward. I don't want to even appear to flaunt my relative wealth by throwing food away. There's still a lot of stuff in that cupboard that is the product of dreaming. I'm going to resist buying more spices and seasonings until I have used it up. (I may have to get creative in how I use it to maintain our current diet efforts!) We'll see how it goes. Lord willing, next year I won't have as much to clean out.


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1 comment:

Heather A said...

Your honesty is really refreshing! I'm guilty of very similar attitudes and actions myself.

I also have to say that having Randy and Jennifer here with us has made me miss all the rest of you so much! I cannot wait to come down there for ten weeks! June 5 can't come fast enough! Until then, know I'm praying for you! Lots of love!