Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Speaking of numbers of months...

Querida irmã,
Three months ago today I arrived in Lisbon. Today my visa expires (don't worry, I did my paperwork and have my id number for the year during those days in Seville). This is in no way as exciting an anniversary as muffin berry pie's sweet-potato-covered 3/4's day. -/aside/ Speaking of which, on her 9 3/4 birthday, remind me to get her a copy of Sorcerer's Stone of her very own. Maybe in Spanish. Maybe the British version. Maybe kindle will be an implant and reading will have died. /end aside/-

It's quite the mind trip having my department and all of my people back home gearing up for the rapidly-approaching semester that I won't be there for. And having been 'away' for three months and only being at the very tippy toed beginning of the time I'll be on this side of the sea. Not that I'm not stoked to be in the where and when and mind-space that I am inhabiting here. Because I am. I mean, once I post this, I'm probably going to wait for the temperature to drop a bit more, and then wander down to this:
It's impossible to not love this city.
Plus the fact that my Portuguese pronunciation and grammar have com a'roarin' back being here. There is also not much that I would rather be doing than trying to frame off three languages that have so much in common linguistically, historically, morphemically, lexically, etc... without letting them bleed into each other. But that's the goal. And why I am super lucky and grateful to have friends who will talk to me in Galego while I'm here to stop me from drifting too far back in this direction. But still. Roots are a thing that prefer to be buried in soil than to drift in the air (unless you're a spider plant, or lots of vines, or certain kinds of orchids, or... I'm keeping the metaphor). 

When the thought to mark this time-place came to me, the version in my head was a lot less rambley. Let me change tacks. 

Did you know that northern Portugal has crazy numbers of forest fires? I didn't, not in an immediate way, until this week, when the smoke haze lowered over the city and the sky went that sickly yellow color that smells like burnt books. Unlike (the majority of fires in) Alaska, the fires here aren't safely away from people. They also tend to not be accidental/natural: no lightning, but rather intentional starting. Not fact-checked, but several people have told me that about 70% of the seriously numerous summer fires here are set intentionally. The one near here caused two hospitals to be evacuated, and (again, second hand data) a thousand people have lost their homes. Here's Portugal today on satellite view:
Those are not clouds. That is smoke.
Fire season in Fairbanks is so viscerally present, what with being a smoke-collecting bowl of geography and the days of zero visibility due to smoke, that it's oddly deja-vu-ey to find ash particulates everywhere. The Proustian madeline of summer disaster: the smell of burning forests and incinerated dreams. 

I owe you a post about food, and a recipe for a truly wicked (Maine, not Elphaba) summery pasta-ey lemon-ey parsley-ey walnut-ey slaw. Wasn't that one of the things we talked about when we started this - recipes and stuff? 

Wishing you (all) deep breaths of spruce-scented air, jolts of pleasure as your mornings move toward being crisp, and giant smiles with my niesling,
your sister.

ps. She is seriously the most amazing tiny human. *disclaimer* Also biased. 

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