Friends in Austria like to ask about friendliness in the USA. They say: "When your neighbor wishes you a good day - she doesn't mean it, right? It's all superficial." I am not sure about the answer, but does friendliness, whatever the motives, not make for a more pleasant life? I'd rather have my neighbor wish me a good day and not mean it than have her bark at me and mean it.
What do we know about simplicity? Figs from our tree. Figs. The taste of summer, the taste of home; my immigrant home. Our backyard tree is heavy with fruit. In the mornings I go out to pick what is ripe; figs for breakfast, a treat straight from the tree; flesh and seeds, refreshing and sweet, grainy resistance and softness at the same time. Figs, the color of their skin, purple with blotches of green or white stripes where they have cracked. The reds and browns inside bring up memories: a summer spent in Normandy, France, with my parents, my brother, and my maternal grandmother. Life was about food in its basic, original form, about mussels and figs and cheese; it was about the ocean and its tides, gigantic but predictable, and about history. We visited Bayeux to see the tapestry which tells the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings; we spent a day or a half at Arromanches, saw a documentary on D-Day and the landing of the allied forces on the b