I smelled something delicious slow cooking on a hot burner stove. The smells unfamiliar but my mouth was watering. My youngest son and I wound our way up to the picnic table in the sunshine. The shaded oak trees are perfect for walking under but leave you with a chill if you are sitting still.
Below us a group of women captured my attention. Four women eating together, in the shade. Their voices singing out the familiar happy birthday tune except, the words were in Mandarin, they were so genuine. They all looked in their 40’s possibly 50’s. The birthday girl dramatically blew out her candles, made a wish and softly danced in place. All of her friends clapped and cheered, quietly. So much of their bodies covered, even their faces sheltered with wide-brimmed sun hats. No matter, their body language was clear. They were good friends, celebrating one of their girlfriends latest trip around the sun, engaged, enjoying each others company and eating what smelled like a feast of delicious food.
The smells wandering up to our table from theirs were so curious. My mouth started watering again. I looked down at our lunch, my turkey, avocado and hummus on a hot dog bun didn’t quiet have the same fanfare when I removed it from the sandwich bag. I offered some chocolate kitty cookies to my son then turned my attention back to the group below, I couldn’t look away.
They brought so many ingredients, there were so many containers on their table. Each one filled with fresh lettuce leaves, noodles, seafood, spices, even grilled and pickled vegetables. They took turns collecting complementary ingredients with their chopsticks. Those chopsticks were a seamless extension of their strong nimble fingers. Their arms intertwined in a familiar dance, delicately plucking familiar foods from those individual containers. Each friend in sync with the flow of the meal, constant giggles as background music, small embraces warming them up. Friendship is so lovely to enjoy, even if it is from afar.