Beyond Magic


(midway through a conversation on an afternoon stroll)

Me: The reason we say, “I love you,” is so you always know, because life is fragile and love is the most important gift we can give.

Hank: I have been thinking about this and if you or pai (dad) or Molly (Hank’s soon to be born sister) ever die I will just say a feitiço (magic spell) and bring you back.  I have been practicing my magic.  I am very good.  And I have the fairy door so the fairies can help me, too.

Me: (stopping in the middle of the side walk) Oh, Hank.  I know you are good at magic, I see it every day, but there are some things that magic cannot fix.  Death is one of them.

Hank: But I could do it.

Me: No.  It is not possible.  There are some things more powerful than magic.  There is no bringing someone back when they die.  When someone’s journey ends there is no returning.  This is the hardest truth in life.  It is hard to imagine life without the ones you love and that is why we try not to, but it happens every day.  Like your prima (cousin) Daniela, her pai (dad) died.  Can you imagine living your life without your pai (dad)?

Hank: No. (pause) What was his name?

Me: (smiling) We all called him Santos, although that was his last name.

Hank: And he was very nice?

Me: Yes.  He was very special.  He had a way of making you feel like the most important person in the room.  He knew everyone and everyone knew him, and he is missed very much everyday. No magic, no matter how powerful can fix that.


Me: But did you know, because I know you have been studying very hard o meu Feiticeiro (my little wizard) that there is magic for memory and there is magic for pictures and images and there is magic to make stories dance to life that you can study and as long as you remember someone and you hold them in your heart they never leave you.

Hank: That is the magic I will study.

Me: Well, you can’t go wrong with that.


Ferrari Safari


(on the highway)

Pai: Is that a…

Me: Albatross? Elephant? Moon man? Further from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test with Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters?

Pai: (looking in the rear view mirror) Nope, better.  Hank, look out your left window in 3… 2… 1

Hank: WOW!

Me: Holy…

Pai: Ferrari!

Me: And just like that it is gone again.  Like a torpedo of color on the highway.  We are so lucky, Hank. You hardly ever see Ferraris in the wild!

Hank: What do you mean?

Me: Well, you see Ferraris on TV, on video games, and in Hollywood but you hardly ever seem them out in real life: in the wild.

Pai: Unless you are from a town called Felgueiras.

Me: Really?

Pai: Felgueiras is a town in the north where there are an abundance of textile factories and they have the most Ferraris in the Portugal.

Me: Well in that case we need to go there on safari.


Hank: What is a safari?

Me: A safari traditionally is when you go to see wild animals in their natural habitat, like in Africa, but it sounds like we have the perfect opportunity to go on Ferrari Safari in Felgueiras.

Pai: Yes!

Me: We will need Safari gear: hats, binoculars, vests with tons of pockets and zippers, cameras and we can sit in a café and just wait and watch for the opportunity to see a Ferrari up close in the wild.


Me: Alfredo, we will need a Field Guide to Wild Ferraris, can you handle that?

Pai: I am up to the challenge.

Me: I will procure the rest of the gear.  I am pumped!  This is going to be epic.

Hank: We are going on a Ferrari Safari!


Alcácar do Sal


Me: Oh! I love it here.  Look, Hank!  See all that green, green field.  That is rice.

Hank: Really?

Me: Yes and rice is a very difficult plant to grow. It is not as easy like placing a seed in the dirt and waiting a few months. You get some rice and you plant it in a field and then you flood your field with a layer of water. Then once they sprout into shoots you come back and gently pull up some of the plants and move them around until they have enough space to grow.  The farmer does this in the field with the water and there are many mosquitos and it is very hard on their back bending over.  Then as soon as the rice is ready the fields are drained and to rice is harvested and each tiny grain of rice is important.  Megumi (a dear friend) once told me …

Hank: I know this. You told me.  Every piece of rice that gets spilled is the sadness of the farmer.

Me: Is a tear of the farmer.  That is right.  Because so much work goes into growing rice that if it is wasted it is disrespectful to the people who worked so hard to grow it.

Hank: Yes.  I remember.

Me: And look up… Cegonhas (storks, flying overhead).

Hank: And look here.  Hydrangea.  Megumi loves Hydrangea.

Me: (pause)

Hank: (pause)

Me: Thanks for being my kid.

Hank: Thanks for being my mama.