Perseid Bean Party
The August night of the Perseid Meteors, the revelers at the yearly “Poor Man’s Meat” Party ate pasta y fagiole, Cincinnati Five Way chili and a rattlesnake bean chili. One family contributed Boston Baked Beans and some kids from Las Cruces, New Mexico brought a version made with appaloosas.
There were dal and roti, refries with cheddar, Hoppin’ John, an impressive Fejoada completa, and fresh-made hummus. A family of latecomers arrived with mujadara buried under caramelized onions and we ended lightly with agadashi tofu. There were sweet bean cakes for dessert. The new babies, children and grandkids ready for solid foods, got initiated to beans that August night of the shooting stars. It was the custom among this crowd of old friends, going back to the 1960’s.
Long after beans in the fields folded their leaves, the fog rolled in and froze out the party; time to watch the meteors. We headed south climbing the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, on California 35, climbing up above the fog, dipping back down into it, up and down, in and out again, and finally above the fog for good, atop Borel Hill, Russian Ridge, above Palo Alto. There was a glow at the horizon to the southeast from San Jose, 2500 feet below. Otherwise we had the night to ourselves.
We cast beans around the ground for good luck seeing a great star show, zipped our sleeping bags together and cozied in, the babies on their daddy’s chests looking skyward. Blue fireballs, white pin stripe flashes, yellow streaks and red streaks crossed the Milky Way in the moonless sky. Bats flitted and an owl swooshed over our heads leaving behind its feathery smell.
We told Perseus’ story: King Polydectes wanted him out of the way so he could marry Perseus’ mother Danae. The king ordered Perseus to bring him the head of the Gorgon Medusa, expecting he would never return. But Perseus had help. Hermes gave him winged sandals, Zeus gave him a sword and the helmet of invisibility, and Athena gave him a gleaming shield to reflect Medusa. The Hesperides gave him a sack to hold Medusa’s head until he needed it to turn his enemies to stone and free Danae. “Ohs,” “Ahs,” and “Wow, did you see that one?” framed the story of the meteor shower’s name.
Driving home, the sleepers in the back seat didn’t wake even when we screeched to a halt to save two headlight-blinded fawns. Later we slept until supper and then cooked up some sausage to go with leftovers. The babies on laps licked their rose bud lips and opened their mouths for more. “Mmmmm, mmmm, mmm.”
About the author:
Daniel Raskin is a retired preschool teacher, living in San Francisco. He writes with Poets on Parnassus and Laguna Writers. His writing has appeared in The Birdland Journal.