Sunday, August 2, 2009

Time, time, time

Time itself is kinda meaningless in Zambia, but timing still matters. Folks eat the traditional maize meal paste, shima, with globs of cooked vegetables or meat. It takes us white people some practice before we manage to scoop up the last of the okra with the last handful of shima.

One goal of my anti-hoarding campaign is to subvert my usual tendency to save my special things for some mythical special occasion that often doesn't arrive before said special things dry up and rot. Instead, I want to force myself to use them up and enjoy them. I want us to skate out of Zambia on a wave of candy wrappers and the nubs of used-up colored pencils. I want to sip the last packet of Kool-Aid the day we fly out.

The friend who bequeathed me the yarn tried to time the end of her spices. By last weekend, she had run out of Mexican seasoning and salt. She bought one pin's worth (20 cents) of cooking oil in a plastic bag because she didn't need a whole bottle. Her final few days in the village were flavored with cinnamon and Wochestershire sauce. When she was at our house last weekend, gazing longingly into our pantry, I was tempted to offer her little baggies of garlic salt or cumin, but I know that part of the satisfaction is timing it exactly right.

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