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.
I enjoyed your story and the video. Almonds make you work for their reward.ReplyDelete
But the reward tastes sooo good.Delete
Absolutely fascinating and enchanting! Thanks too for the links.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Rosemary. You're welcome.Delete
a mysterious but gripping write up. Enjoyed it all. You are an amazing writer.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Anjum.Delete
How delicious are those sea almonds!!💝 I loved visualizing a version of you carrying a hammer in your schoolbag, the spirit, the determined smile and attitude with the Caribbean sea in the background. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt!😘😘ReplyDelete
Thank you for hosting, Sanaa... and for visualizing. 😊Delete
I love the idea of book-scented sea, Magaly. The library was my favourite place as a child, it smelled of fantasy and escape from the mundane. I tried to work out what the hammer was for and was delighted that it was for cracking almonds! Thanks for the link – those sea almonds are big nuts!ReplyDelete
The library was my sanctuary and playground, too. My local library was tiny. But I practically lived there before I was old enough to go to the national library on my own (it was a long ride).Delete
Who as a child has not taken something to school they shouldn't have? I loved your story Magaly I wasn't quite that daring!ReplyDelete
Taking a hammer to school when I was a teenager wasn't a very daring thing to do. We had a garden, in my school, and we had to bring our own tools. So, many times my books rested next to a trowel and some sort of cutting tool.Delete
But... I did dare to bring risqué novels to school, which I would read with friends while giggling like maniacs. And those were strictly forbidden.
Although I grew up land locked with nary an almond tree in sight, the spirit of this piece felt very true to my childhood. I remember the small thrills of the things and places I called my own and how very special they were to me. LOL, I also remembered one teacher we called Miss Lava too, on account of her sweet and mild personality. :DReplyDelete
Miss Lava sounds like such a warm name, lol!Delete
Sor Mumm-Ra was a least a thousand years old. She looked decrepit and as tiny as a small preteen. But when she got upset--which happened a lot--she seemed to burst out of her mummy wrappings and expand into a glorious monster.
Magaly, I loved reading your hammer story and being caught up with the suspense of why you took it. I also am happy to learn the word, motoconcho. I've seen them, China and Central America but hadn't known a name for them.ReplyDelete
I guess you've invited a "kiss and tell session" here:
I shot a pistol for the first time in high school. We used it with blanks during our class play. A buddy brought some bullets for it and a few of us went outside and shot them when we were not on stage.
I rode a Vespa scooter to work four years of my Army life at El Paso (Texas). At home I could take the kids, we had four then, two at a time for scooter rides. One would be on the buddy seat and another would stand on the platform ahead of the driver seat. None could be the handlebars because I had mounted a windshield there.
I had one accident that landed me on the hood of a lady who ran a stop sign. My face and legs were bruised, bones okay.
I'm glad to learn the name,motoconcho. I've seen them in China and Central America.
In Guatamala on the Pan American Highway pickup trucks would be full of folk standing in the back. Used in leiw of cabs or busses.
Lots more similar to your library trek but already I've written TMI.
Motoconcho is purely Dominican slang. I suspect different places might have different names for it.Delete
"fed a hammer to her schoolbag" ((smiles))ReplyDelete
I remember those almonds, a hammer works good on them
I miss those almonds, lol!Delete
I wandered (and wondered) through your story considering the purpose of the hammer. Delightful read, Megaly!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Bev.Delete
I really was wondering where you were going with this hammer thing! Thanks for leading me in to find out, my friend!ReplyDelete
I am so glad you came along for the journey!Delete
I love the image of you “feeding” a hammer to your schoolbag! Also the thought of you in the library, poring through books on faery tales and garden grimoires. I can literally see it in my head! Along with the SPLAT of that poor, poor almond. lol 🖤ReplyDelete
The SPLAT was rather satisfying. Also, I'm certain the almond had it coming. If not, why would the fall of the tree?Delete
Your story took me to a place I knew nothing about. And I had no idea where it was going- excellent Magaly!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Linda.Delete
Yum...the nuts AND the story. Salute!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ron.Delete
I was reading this and thinking, what an earth is she doing with a hammer at school? The big reveal at the end give me the answer. A delightful ending.ReplyDelete
So glad you enjoyed it, Vivian.Delete
It pays to always be well equipped for life's delights. I love getting to know the upbringing of young mystical Magaly. The sea almonds remind me of date seeds.ReplyDelete
You are right! They do look like date seeds.Delete
Thanks for sharing a small glimpse of your youth. As a land-locked Iowan, I could only imagine other places such as yours. You painted a wonderful picture.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Joel.Delete
I really enjoyed this glimpse of your Dominican childhood...and seeing your "trademark" hammer at work. :)ReplyDelete
It seems that my relationship with hammers started very early. Hehehehe.Delete
I was worth the wait to see what the hammer's use would be.ReplyDelete