Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ramps and Old Women

I've been getting ramps for a good price. A good price because they are not cleaned. Cleaning ramps can be fun if you make it fun. Today , i only had 8 lbs to clean. Not a ton, seeing that I plan to get 400 lbs for a ramp party im throwing soon, but it still took me 4 hours.  Tired of being locked in the kitchen on my days off not able to enjoy the sun, my dog, and my girlfriend. I decided to take the party outside. 4 hours for 8 lbs is pathetic, but when your sitting outside in the sun you get distracted. 
Today i had this women stop by. Her name was Maria. She pulled up with a walker, which also doubles as a chair. She started talking to me in another language which i soon realized was Italian. i didn't understand. I smiled and gave her a nice nod and continued cleaning ramps. She continued her conversation with me. I was on my bluetooth talking to my girlfriend, so on one end my girlfriend was wondering what other lady i was talking to and on the other end i had this old women who probably doesn't know what a Jaw Bone NOISE ASSASSIN is and probably thought i was talking to her. 
So i got off with my girlfriend to see what this women wanted because she clearly looked like she was going to stay awhile. 
I dont know how people communicate without talking eachothers languages but it happens. She was clearly wondering what the ramps were. I told her they were ramps. She didn't get it. Then i said wild leeks. nothing. I finally gave her one to smell. Feeling like Sigourney Weaver in "Gorillas in the Mist" i bagan motioning to eat the leaves as i ate mine. We chewed our ramp tops, smelled, and took in the mild garlic/onion flavor. She nodded, i nodded, she smiled, i smiled. She said something that sounded like garlic. i said yes. We were getting somewhere. 
We continued to talk, or should i say ...communicate. 
1/2 way through our hour long conversation, we realized that we could both speak a little bit of french. Neither of us could make full sentences, so we becan talking in a trio of languages. Actually 5. At one point i through in a few portuguese words at which time she reminded me swiftly that she was not Portuguese , but italian, and from the Abruzzo region. (typical italian). And the 5th language was just words i was making up with italian endings like "ini", hoping to get lucky. 
I learned she was 83 years old, from abruzzo, moved here 48 years ago, her mother died a long time ago in Italy, and used to make prosciutto. We talked about how canadians dont cook anymore and that all they do is do take out and eat out. She was on her way back from the hospital visiting a friend with heart problems. I told her i was dutch, she thought german, i said Holland, nederlands, she looked perplexed, i changed the subject. I told her my name was Grant, she said frank, i repeated Grant, she couldn't pronouce it, so we both settled with Frank. Luigi stopped by as i was trying to ask her about grape leaves from wine, and if she grew them, and what she did with them if she did because i could use some for pickling this summer.

Luigi wasn't really into being our interpreter. He gave us a few minutes of his time but then had a look on his face that said, you want my help, pay me. 
I managed to understand that maria doesn't grow grapes because of the raccoons, neither does Luigi. But his neighbour does. He said they throw out the leaves. I said i would buy them, he says not till september. i said i would buy them. Obviously knowing he was not going to make any money with his time or his neighbours grape leaves, he nodded ok, mumbled semtember, and continued on his way. So there maria and i were together, shooting the shit and soaking up the sun. She peered into the window of the hoof and saw Patrice, our server. Maria said "Chinese" looking for my reassurance. I said Phillipino. She didn't understand. So i nodded and said "chinese". 
The day was getting cooler. Maria decided to get on her way. We exchanged gifts. I gave her a handful of ramps and she gave me a banana. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to hug or shake hands after a long talk like the one we had, so i went the safe route with a wave goodbye and a warm smile. 
I'm not sure i will ever see maria again, perhaps ill catch her pushing her walker down the road on her way to visit her friend in hospital. Or perhaps ill find her peering into the hoof looking for me. 

1 comment:

Rui said...

Hi there!
I don't know if you're still lookin for grape leaves ( or even grapes ) but I have an absurd amount of grapes in our backyard. I wind up throwing them out every year but if you can use them for something drop me a line and you can swing by and take a look. I'm just around the corner from you.