Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Talking Palm: How the childhood storms of a young woman's life remained hidden until a palm fruit started talking

 Sheryl grows up in the #Caribbean isle of #Dominica believing in a #cultural myth that a big bad man called a “skerrit” kills children who do not go to school. But a #truant Sheryl thinks that can never happen to her until the day she learns that the “skerrit” has come to get her, and the #frightened nine-year old Sheryl face a #fate that she thinks nobody can save her from.  As Sheryl matures and #encounters more #powerful people determined to harm her, however, she fights back the best she can. One day, an unusually mighty friend whom she has been longing to see all of her life finally visits her land.  But the #excited twenty-year old soon #discovers that her friend’s landing is not what she had #anticipated, and more than she had expected.  Stories of #stormy as well as #delightful encounters in this #novel are buried deep within Sheryl, until one night, one late #college night, when a #palm fruit starts her talking.

My Caribbean Coconut Delight

When I was growing up in Dominica, one of my favorite foods was the coconut. A lot of good stuff came from the coconut.
     Coconut jelly, the soothingly cold pure nature’s water and the white jiggle pulp found in the green shell of the non-mature fruit tasted so good rolling down my throat on a hot Sunday morning.
     Ah. Roasted coconut. That roast was to live for as it cackled under the brimming fire of charcoal while its healthy oil spewed out of its turgid fruit like a volcanic eruption. Its barbecued aroma smelled as heavenly as it tasted when it exploded on my panting tongue with a piece of hot bread.
     What about the gravy made with coconut milk?  Have you tasted that gravy yet, that sannkotj? If not, you are missing something. As a child, I lived for the moments when my mother grated that coconut, strained the white frothy milk from that tropical fruit and mixed it with her stewing meat. What an collision of the senses! What titillating thoughts raced through the mind of my salivating tongue. I tell you, my mouth used to struggle to wait for the feast in paradise that was to come.     
     Desserts. Ummm. Desserts like coconut lollipops, ice cream, cake, and coconut tablѐt provided sweet heaven for children like me, especially coconut tablѐt.  My oh my.  Coconut tablѐt was one my favorite sweets.  I could not live without it. I could not stay away from it.  Not for an entire day.  Wherever it was, I had to find it.  When I had no money to buy it, well, I found it. I found the money.  I remember stealing coins from our grocery store (shh, a secret) to buy coconut tablѐt.  I did so almost every day after I had lunch and my coconut dessert fanatic pals and I were on our way back to school for the afternoon session.
     School.  My school, a long one-room building, was just a few steps away from the sea, the jolly Caribbean Sea.  Yep.  Its sunny beach was where my friends and I landed most afternoons, as we strolled along its sole-tingling sand looking for mangoes and grapes while we munched on our beloved tablѐt.
     That was fun, so much fun, much more fun than the boring long division menu awaiting my friends and I when and if we returned to our class under the coconut or mango trees.

Journey with me into my past and find out more about my relationship with the coconut in my 

new coming of age novel called:
The Talking Palm: How the childhood storms of a young woman’s life remained hidden until a palm fruit started talking  at