This is a summer post about generosity, serendipity, and okra.
On a recent visit to my esteemed friends Abu Malek and Um Malek in Kfar Manda, inevitably I left bearing gifts – two plastic bags with produce freshly picked that morning – the lubia (fresh black eyed peas in their casings) and okra that Um Malek grows in the fertile Batof Valley soil. My gratitude over her boundless generosity is heightened by the process I have gone through, learning to accept these gifts with the same grace with which they are extended.
Some days later I came home, exhausted, after a day of work in the city. The sun was low in the sky, and my hammock beckoned. A quick internal survey found that I was more tired than hungry, but with my last bit of energy, I took out the okra from the fridge. Without even trimming off the caps, I tossed them in olive oil, sprinkled them with sea salt and put them in the oven to roast.
Lying in the hammock, I did another little survey. The breeze that was brushing over my bare arms – was it too chilly or just right? With the golden light filtering through the olive and cypress trees, I concluded that it felt like a feather-light pashmina shawl being gently pulled up over my shoulders, and I fell asleep.
However long I slept, I woke up coherent enough to quickly check on the okra. It was roasted to a crisp. I tasted one of the little toasted pods – it was like a wonderfully upgraded potato chip. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better snack!