Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Petit Careme

Sun coming up, reflecting off an east slope
 October often gives us sublime days, that are neither hot nor cold, not humid, not dry, just cool so. You wake to sun glinting off last night's dew. Pale blue sky and maybe one two wispy clouds. But it is the light that's bouncing around the underbrush that catches your breath. It's the early morning light you see in cocoa estates, or the cocal in Manzanilla, or through the north coast hillslopes from Maracas to Blanchisseuse and beyond. It's glimpsed in seconds but saturates your being with a hint at eternity.

Don't think it will be the same light in a tunnel to Maracas.

The angle of light from the sun in October is special. In the northern hemisphere - Trinidad is just ten degrees north - it's just enough from the south that we can detect the subtle softening and elongated shift through the atmosphere. It speaks of shorter days, some respite from the rainy season, and in the early morning or evening, an afterglow. Some mornings, it bounces through low lying mists and breaks into a million rainbows.

The association of a hot dry spell in September into October has come to us as "petit careme," a French patois term. But who knows what it actually means. I like to think of careme as a blend of caramel and creme, something sweet and smooth, but also the best - as in creme de la creme. The best days of the year.

Today, yes, is another perfect day.
Sunshine sifting through tall trees on the Asa Wright trail


  1. Loved this 'rich' piece of writing! You had me getting out my French dictionary.. Canadian that I am (bilingual and all)!

    Petit means small.. that is clear. But careme, according to my dictionary means Lent. So.. a small lent, would be a literal translation. Maybe the earth is doing with out water for a short time... like the Lenten sacrifice of doing without..

    But interestingly enough 'Careme' is also the name of a famous French chef, who was so good that he was asked to cook for Napoleon it seems.

    Marie Antoine (Antonin[1]) Carême (8 June 1784–12 January 1833), known as "The King of Chefs, and the Chef of Kings"[2] was an early practitioner and exponent of the elaborate style of cooking known as haute cuisine, the "high art" of French cooking: a grandiose style of cookery favored by both international royalty and by the newly rich of Paris. Carême is often considered as one of the first, internationally renowned celebrity chefs.

    Carême gained fame in Paris for his pièces montées, elaborate constructions used as centerpieces, which Bailly displayed in the pâtisserie window. He made these confections, which were sometimes several feet high, entirely out of foodstuffs such as sugar, marzipan, and pastry. He modeled them on temples, pyramids, and ancient ruins, taking ideas from architectural history books that he studied at the nearby Bibliothèque Nationale, thanks to the enlightened attitude of his first employer Bailly.[3] He is credited with the inventions of gros nougats[4] and grosses meringues, croquantes, made of almonds and honey, and solilemmes.[5]

    I am definitely going with the 'caramel and cream" thoughts that your imagination conjured up! But now I can imagine them as little pieces of architecture, too!