Tag: 2018 February Group Writing

Mango: Fruit of the Gods


The high of summer in Cambodia is marked by the Khmer New Year in mid-April. It’s a time when the entire country collectively sweats. Women in their fine silk and lace go to the monasteries and welcome the New Year in the searing heat. However, underneath all the sweltering heat, there is a very heady, sweet tropical aroma lingering in the air; the peak of the mango season is almost upon us.

Mango is the quintessential tropical summer fruit. I’ve mentioned before on this page that I grew up on an orchard. To be precise, I grew up on a mango orchard, and many childhood memories are associated with this fruit. With the arrival of spring in late January, the blossoms would bloom on the mango trees. The sweet fragrance of the flowers would attract insects. We’d gather dried leaves and grass around the bases of the trees and light fire to keep the insects away. By late March, as the temperature begins to rise and the budding mangoes continue to grow, there is a slight change in the air and so arrive the “mango rains.” Mangoes begin to fall from the trees, marking the arrival of the pre-monsoon rainfall. These “mango rains”, also referred to as “summer showers,” are just light sprinkles in the afternoon, but sometimes they do turn into several hours of downpour. But without the rains, the crop won’t thrive; the rains help in the early ripening of the mangoes. After the rainfall, we would gather all the fallen green mangoes and pickle them whole. Khmers love eating sour fruits, especially mangoes, pickled or fresh. If you ever visit Cambodia, you’d see fruit vendors selling sour fruits on every street corner, all over the country. We eat those fruits dipped in a mixture of salt, sugar, and chili. Our pickled mangoes never lasted until the next season.

As the high summer arrives in mid to late April, mangoes begin to ripe. We’d pluck them and gather them according to varieties. There are a few dozen Khmer mango varieties and they are just as good as those you’d find in India, the birthplace of the fruit.The most prized variety by Khmers is svay keo chin.

Summer in Montana


My last post was about summer while I was growing up in Arkansas during which I made plenty of great memories. Now that I’ve been up here in Montana for several years, I’ve made quite a few Montana summer memories.

I moved to Montana in June of 2014. The day I left Arkansas, there was a heat index of 120 with 90-some-odd-percent humidity. I loaded up the U-Haul with the help of several friends, stuck the cat in his pet taxi, booted up an audiobook, and set off on my great trek across the country. I drove up to Sioux Falls, SD the first day and was delighted with the much cooler temperatures. I drove to Gillette, WY on the second day to stay with my handsome now-husband. (@kaladin) Then I finished the journey up to Bozeman on the third day. Terry had already picked us out an apartment on his last leave. Got the truck unloaded, and started to settle in for about a week before the new job started.

After the Cultural Winter


Hagia Irene, a church of the Iconoclasm period.

Winter is a time when the earth seems dying and barren. The trees are shorn of their leaves by the howling winds, the ground is shorn of its color by frost or sucking mud. Nothing is growing, nothing seemingly is even changing. From the time the Christmas decorations are dunned away, the world takes on a dreary day to day sameness of cold and damp, relieved on in the forced fits of the crimson blushing of Valentine’s Day, or the unnatural kelly-green of St. Patrick’s Day. When Spring arrives, really arrives despite the occasional frost or last burst of snow, suddenly it is everywhere at once in a thousand flower beds both tended by human hands and otherwise. And then Summer works its way in, when the days are long, golden, and warm with activity.  We can appreciate the Summer all the more by remembering how dreary the Winter before it was.

Member Post


 — Why hello, there, sand people. My name’s Amer Maid. What’s yours? The San D. Mann Family? Well, welcome to the neighborhood, guys. What’s that? You’re looking for a place to live? Well, you’ve come to the right person; that’s for sure. I’m the best beachcomber in the area; so if I can’t find you […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Summer Memories


When I was a kid, the local pool had specific blocks of time in which it was open to the public. A single quarter would get you into one of the two-hour sessions. Despite my extremely sunburn-prone skin, my sister and I often got our mother to let us go for both sessions. There was a 20- to 30-minute break between the two sessions in which we had plenty of time to run two blocks over to the little grocery store and grab some snacks, charging them to Mom’s account. We usually got a Yoo-Hoo and a Moon Pie apiece, snarfed them down as quickly as possible, then ran back to the pool to camp out in the much cooler ladies’ locker room while waiting for the second session to start.

My sister and I lived in the pool as much as possible during the summer. We especially got excited for family reunion time every other June. We got to have three full days in the pool with our distant cousins while the adults visited. Occasionally, I’d be so sunburnt halfway through Day Two that my mother and grandmother would ban me from the pool, so I’d stay indoors with the adults and play cards.

Love of Flying: AirVenture


2017 Boeing Plaza

Each year near the end of July, about 600,000 people make a pilgrimage to AirVenture, sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For EAA members, their love of all things flying brings them back every year. One local EAA member has been to Oshkosh since 1978, missing only twice due to work and a house move. Like many of the 5000 volunteers, he answers questions from those who fly-in (where are the bathrooms…) and helps tie down their planes. AirVenture is a major tradeshow for aviation vendors, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) usually makes a major announcement. For many, the afternoon airshow with special aircraft, such as Warbirds (mostly World War II), military jets, and great aerobatic flyers such as Sean Tucker is the reason to attend.

Sunshine on my Shoulders


The ultimate destination of that vacation with another family that I mentioned yesterday was South Manitou Island in Michigan. The island had been taken over as part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but those who owned property there were grandfathered in. When those people died, their land would become part of the park. However, one of those people owned a cabin and was a friend of Mr. Leonards*, the father of the family I was traveling with. So, Mr. Leonards got this cabin for two weeks in the summer every year, and I happened to be with them in the summer of 1976.

The cabin was not a log cabin, but more of a small bungalow home. It had two bedrooms. One taken by Mr. and Mrs. Leonards. The other was a small bedroom with a captain’s bed. Like a car ferry, a captain’s bed was something I had never encountered before. It was just a single bed with a built-in chest of drawers. I thought that space-saving idea was the cat’s pajamas. Still do, and while my current bed is a larger affair, it does have drawers beneath it for linens and for Miss Morgana to open and crawl into. (She likes drawers.)

The Faded and Tattered Memory of a Car Ferry


I think it was the summer I was 12. I don’t remember precisely. It was more than 40 years ago now, at any rate. Family friends offered me the chance to go with them on vacation. They may have offered it to my immediately elder brother first, I’m not sure, but it came down to me, and I jumped at the chance. They had two kids, slightly older than me. I learned about a lot of things I had never heard of before on that vacation. The route was up from where we lived near Chicago to Milwaukee where we took a car ferry across Lake Michigan to some city on the Michigan coast, probably Muskegon. Then from there to the rest of the vacation.

I had never heard of a car ferry. Even at that age, I was a history nut with two elder brothers, the elder of whom was also into history, especially military history. I had heard of Harper’s Ferry, of course, but that rather predated automobiles. My vision of a ferry was basically a raft that was pulled across via a rope or was poled across a river. I am not sure what I thought I would see when I heard we would be taking a car ferry across Lake Michigan, but when it arrived at the dock, it was not what I expected. To my eyes, it was a ship, a big ship.

The Sunshine of My Life


“The sun of real happiness shines in your life when you start to cherish others.” — Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

When I think of summer, I experience a restorative state of mind: easy days, dazzling sunlight, leafy trees, blooming flowers and cheerful moments. I think of a bright, yellow sun, bathing the skies and shooing the clouds away. A sunny day lifts me up, even when things might not be going well.

When we are not blessed with sunlight, however, it might be easy to let the clouds drift in. Before we know it, shadows linger nearby, visions narrow and loneliness sets in. But if we are wise, we remember that our lives are illuminated in the cloudy moments through our relationships with others. At those times when we feel most alone and not appreciated, the world looks dark. But when we cherish others, embrace the beauty and warmth of sharing our lives with friends, family and colleagues, the sun is always shining.

Boundary Waters Canoeing


After our two daughters were old enough (eight and five), I approached my wife about going to the Oshkosh Fly-in (now called AirVenture) in 1992. Living in the Kansas City area, we planned to stop at her parent’s house in northern Illinois for a night and drive to Wisconsin the next day. Since the minimum camping charge was for three nights, we planned to be at the airshow for two full days. I remembered being in the Boundary Waters near Ely, MN, in 1975 and 1976, so I asked if we should try wilderness canoeing.

“Sure,” she said, “I was there in 1969 and 1970, and I carried a canoe.” After being married for over 13 years, I was flabbergasted that I didn’t know this. We had camped a few times (before and after having kids) and decided on a three-day canoeing trip. After calling a few Ely outfitters, we chose the one I used in 1976. Our total bill was about $420, which included an 18-foot canoe, paddles, tent, food, sleeping bags, and three Duluth packs (kitchen/food, clothing, sleeping) to carry everything.

Summer Lobster


I grew up in the North. That wasn’t really my fault, just where my parents wound up after meeting and marrying in Georgia. We would go back down to Georgia to visit family every year or so. We had a joke that it always rained in Louisville, KY, because every time we would be driving through it on the way from Illinois to Georgia, it would rain there. We might stop on the way. For instance, one year we stopped at the home of a family friend who had moved down to Tennessee. They had a line of blackberry bushes down near where the old railroad tracks used to be.

Just an aside here, but have you ever noticed how folks out in the country give direction by what used to be there?

Summer Soliloquy


Growing up, summer is a time to learn about yourself.

I awoke that morning to a peculiar sensation. Through the fog of sleep, my fingers brushed my head and caught something. I blearily looked at the entanglement and found it was a walking stick. I freaked. Adrenaline kicked in and I shook my hand to get it off, noting it seemed to be missing a leg (something to feel bad about later).

It’s hard to say if that was the most effective means of waking up that summer. I was at a camp for kids up to age fourteen and was at that senior age when the walking stick incident occurred. The camp provided another means of shocking one awake: showers that pumped icy cold water from the bottom of the lake. One had to hike about a quarter mile from our tent for the privilege.

Member Post


In Group Writing, Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on a proposed theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake. Haven’t participated in Group Writing yet? We’d love for […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.