Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Tamale Lady

  I lived for a time at an apartment complex in Vancouver, Washington with Jan (my wife). We disliked living there. More than once we were found our car broken into and my life threatened. I was even sprayed with mace just outside my back door by a police officer who said I was jumping out at him.  All I had did was walkout door in my socks to see what they commotion was in my back yard.
  It found city life as field mouse would like a colony of rats. Fun to visit but try not to get eaten. I had grown up in a town in eastern Washington. Population 12 thousand or so. It had its problems but nothing like where we had found ourselves living in Vancouver. It just didn’t feel like home.
  Until one day when I was sitting in my favorite chair enjoying a nice cup of coffee when I heard a knock at the door. It was no one that I knew  because all of my friends used the back door to get into my place.
  I opened the door and there was this little old Mexican lady, or would it be Latino Lady.  Anyways, she looked up and faded to shyness. “Sorry, sorry,” she said turning away and starting back up the stairs. In her hand she held a cooler.
  “Wait,” I called out to her.
  She looked back with no understanding what so every, but I did manage to get her attention.  I motioned her back and pointed at the cooler.
  “Tamales?” I questioned, making a motion like I was eating one with my hand.
  She nodded and opened the bucket of goodness.
  The smell was divine, I could even feel the heat coming from off the husked wrapped goodness.
  I motioned for her to wait and I left the door open as I ran for my wallet.
  Upon my return she asked Chicken or pork.  But not with her words. This 65 plus old woman use a bit of improvisation herself. She smiled and then clucked and oinked her question. Smiling again, then quickly turning to see if anyone noticed.
  I laughed and made a motion with my hand like a knife cut my fingers into two. She laughed and understood I wanted half and half.
  I ended up with 6 chicken and 6 pork tamales, at 10 o’clock in the morning. I covered them with salsa and when my wife got up she asked, “Where did you go this morning?”
  She pointed at the tamales on my plate.
  “Grandma, delivered them.”
  I never new the woman name, but each Saturday she would be at my door between 10 and 11 with a dozen Tamales.  She even started to being her Grand daughter to translate for her. I didn’t think she needed one we had already gotten along by ourselves for four Saturdays.
  Once I made that connection with my Mexican Grandmother it started to feel like home. I had grown up eating Mexican food. The Yakima Valley if known three things; apples, wine and Mexican food. That connection with the lady and the tamales gave me that connection I needed with home.

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