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Catching snowflakes--again from Peru

Cheryl's Musings: Catching snowflakes--again from Peru

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Catching snowflakes--again from Peru

I don't record everything in my life--I don't keep a diary, per se--but I like to write about things that are new or interesting or surprising as I travel day to day. Here in Peru, life flies so quickly that I have no chance of recording everything that piques my interest. I feel like I'm catching snowflakes in a blizzard: my problem isn't finding flakes, my problem is that there are too many for me to touch them all. I guess it's a good problem!

What does a children's writer do in Peru? Practical writers would photograph children's games, take notes on holiday celebrations, or seek out legends to retell. Maybe I'll come back to do those things. Right now, this children's writer is too busy catching snowflakes to be practical. Let me share a few of the images and ideas I've snatched from the storm:

  • Lucuma: a Peruvian fruit, round as an apple, green as a gourd, with the golden flesh of a pumpkin and the delicate taste of summer in the mountains. Lucuma ice cream melts on the tongue with a flavor I've tasted nowhere else. If you travel to Peru, you must try it--but be forewarned. Its taste will linger with you the rest of your life, calling you back to Peru.

  • Mangoes: Juicy Peruvian mangoes taste nothing like their cardboard cousins in the States. Imagine mangoes, but sweeter, with flesh that melts in your mouth, scented with the spice of an overcast evening.

  • Language: After spending a week surrounded by the music of Spanish, the strangest things happen. I begin to say “Gracias” instead of “Thank you.” I begin to catch words and phrases in the rapid-fire talk surrounding me. I become so used to communicating with my new friends that I forget that they don't understand English perfectly. The same happens in reverse, too. Tonight, one woman translated English into Spanish for me; another asked me a polite question en Español and waited expectantly for my answer.

  • Place: Here I saw a wildfire race up the mountainside and burn itself out minutes later; a plain gray bird singing like a nightingale; a dandelion-yellow ice cream cart piled high with treats; men working in the sun, trimming flowered shrubs with machetes.

Catching at snowflakes: I don't know when I'll make sense of everything I'm experiencing here, but I know that I won't be able to rest until I do. You know how I know? I have a new story brewing, a story that takes place in Peru—and most astonishing of all, it's not even fantasy!

:) Cheryl

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