My memories of the sea are book scented
and sing of hammers promising treats. Weird? Of course, it’s weird. I’m a weird
woman, and I was a wonderfully weird child who, on Fridays, fed a hammer to her
But don’t fret for me—I grew up in a time and a place when
the thought of metal detectors in school would probably brew riotous, disbelief-infused
laughter. So, I smuggled (well…
perhaps “smuggled” might not be the right word for it, since no one ever said to
me that I could not bring a hammer to school or to the Biblioteca Nacional
Pedro Henríquez Ureña for that matter).
My hammer waited patiently in my schoolbag, through math
with señor Gustavo, through natural sciences with Sor María de la Piedad,
through social studies with a teacher whose name I can’t recall (but everyone called her Sor Mumm-Ra).
school, on Fridays, I would take two buses and a motoconcho to the
library. Then, I would delight in books (mythologies
and fairy tales and garden grimoires were my favorites).
Once the book fun was had, my hammer and I would head to El
Malecón—not just a pier but a whole street that glances into the Caribbean Sea.
Between the street and the beach, out of sandy soil, grew palm, coconut, and sea
almond trees. I would sit on the ground, not caring if the skirt of my
uniform got a bit dirty, and I would take my hammer out of the bag, reach for
the ripest almond, hold the fruit against a flat rock, and hammer it until
it split in half to offer its nutty treat.
the wee notes…
- motoconcho: a motorcycle (often
a rather small model) used for public transportation in the Dominican
Republic. If you are curious, follow this link for a glimpse.
- follow this link, if you
wish to see the sea almond hammering process. The hands (the hammer and the
almonds) in the video aren’t mine.