Christmas is my favorite season and I just couldn’t wait.
Memories of Olando flooded my mind as a gentle breeze rushed through my garden and wafted the delicate scent of roses throughout my kitchen, bringing welcome relief from the Jamaican heat.
I rocked back and forth on my heels as if to asana. My jeans dress tugged a little too tightly on my curves and I exhaled to counts of four as the next wave of floral gusts blew around me and naughtily shifted the curtains by the kitchen window, exposing everything; the birds that vicariously hung from the limbs of the mango tree. The moss covered limbs that framed the patio...
I turned on my heels and followed the nudge of the cane wind. My mind floated to conversations at the kitchen table with Olando, as I reminisced on how we conversated about anything and everything. My mind’s eye nostalgically traced his movements throughout the room, as chatter and spilled sorrel were always punctuated by bursts of laughter and stray rose petals from his bouquet that sought to escape through the door, to freedom.
I followed the nudge of my spirit towards the cupboard.
My midriff caught on the door handle, playfully pulling me back as he would. Beads of sweat rolled down my thighs as I pryed myself free. I had to do something about the heat.
There it was. A bag of preserved sorrel flower buds.
The pandemic had created distance and even though I missed Olando, I longed to hear the laughter of my family and spend days on the patio; as they, too, were confined to their individual spaces.
I smiled and remembered our Christmas traditions. Traditionally, elders would become drunk on the high volumes of Red Label Wine added to the sorrel drink for extra strength.
This was the routine at Christmas time in Jamaica.
Devilishly, I reached for the other ingredients.
My fingers found ginger.
It was the perfect summer sin.
Pimento, orange peel, mint and cinnamon presented themselves.
It was lit. Under two quarts of water. Handed down for generations, I began to prepare that which would define perfection. In fell 15 pimento seeds, strips of orange rinds, cinnamon; stick and leaf and dust that blended perfectly unto my skin as I delicately brushed them away. I added a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. The warm and spicy aroma filled the house as they were brought to a boil.
I thought how hot it was in here and bent over and cracked the windows open above the stove.
At a hundred degrees, the sorrel was added.
When the heat touches it, Hibiscus subclariffa enclosed in their fleshly calyces opens your senses to refreshing notes of citrus and undertones of mischievous conversations.
It was the perfect chemistry.
Two cups of sorrel steeped crimson and bled into the mixture. The heat of the water coaxed pretty shades of pinkish red and purple from the pods as it was set to cool.
In the heat of the moment, my mind drifted again to Olando, as sprigs of mint were set to freeze.
I made my way unto the patio. The wooded enclosure beckoned with enchantment as I strolled into my favorite part of the garden. Wild lavender and lilac peonies bewitched monarch butterflies that fluttered unto the overhanging moss and delicately pitched in a whisper.
It was beautiful.
Rays blazed through the trees and I widened my stance just a bit.Brushing gently against my thigh was the head of a poppy flower, illuminated by the sun.
The mixture had cooled. I carefully strained the liquid into another mixing bowl. Sweet golden particles of agave were added to taste and maple syrup slid from the mixing spoon and found their way to my lips.
And yes, I tasted.
Licking the back of my hand, I added my favorite bourbon to the tune of my own discretion into my favorite rock glass over crushed minted ice. The mint slowly released its flavor into my crimson intoxi-creation as the shards melted, involuntarily releasing bits of green to the surface.
Lemon wedged and exotic, I made my way to the patio. Again, my mind floated on Olando. Maybe he would bring Roselle. I took pulled out my phone.
I took a couple more sips on my labor of love. It was hard to tell because of the heat. The particles that hovered on the light beam above the poppy bouquet could be dust, or fairies. It didn’t matter.
Finally, I was seated comfortably, enjoying Christmas in July.