November 21, 1963
Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas
Jackie and Jack, Lady Bird and LBJ attending a LULAC (League of United Latin-American Citizens ) function
Anyone else feel awkward when the mariachi band comes by? You smile and nod when they sidle up beside your table, but of course you can’t sing along. You don’t want to eat while they’re playing, or resume conversation with your guests because that would be rude, so you smile and wait it out. Should you tip? How would you even tip when their hands are full? I’m trying to eat Combo #4. Please move along. I’ll enjoy it more when you’re 10 feet away.
Four incredibly color-coordinated pale faces chat about patterns with Chippewa Chief Big Bear in Itasca Park, Minnesota back in 1935. His tribesman sold many items to visitors, including beaded bags, baskets, toy birch-bark canoes, and other handicrafts. They also held husking parties, such as these, with the intent to supply rice for sportsmen’s game banquets.
While other tribes chose corn as their main crop, the Chippewa lived in a “place where there is food upon the water” surrounding the Great Lakes region. Wild rice, or “manoomin” in the Ojibwe language, was integral to their diets as well as their entire way of life. Wisconsin Chippewans have harvested manoomin for centuries.
In 2018, Chippewa Indians from Turtle Lake, Wisconsin continued to gather in the name of rice, hosting their 45th annual Wild Rice Festival. The pow-wow was the showstopper.
While rice beds have been diminishing, threatened by climate issues, pipelines, and mines, Chippewans struggle to protect the crop by reseeding lakes and waterways, hoping to meet the needs of their communities as well as pass on the culture to younger generations.
Who knew wild rice was such a big deal? To most of us, it’s just a side option at restaurants.
Or a delectable holiday dish, such as this cranberry squash wild rice pilaf.
Seriously, I could eat that right now.
Check and see if your state celebrates wild rice as well. Why, we even have a Texas Wild Rice Festival in San Marcos! There’s the mayor floating the river in the middle of the festival.
Prices seem fair in most places, even if you don’t get a pow-wow or float down a river.
And don’t forget to dress up!
Perhaps your state will start re-opening as per its Phase I guidelines on May 1st. Perhaps it’s May 8th. All I know is it WILL be May, and folks will be getting prepped and ready to shine.
Betty can breathe on Martha, and Martha can cough on Mary.
Carl won’t have to wipe down that wooden chair seat after he gets up.
The line at Great Clips will stretch past the adjacent Subway and Pizza Hut in the strip malls.
The cleaners will be packed with piles of people’s threadbare sweats and yoga pants.
Cobblers will be cobbling.
Diners will be packed elbow-to-elbow.
People might even board public transportation.
Ew. Seriously gross. Kirk is even having second thoughts about cushions never cleaned.
Butchers will be butchering, fileting, de-boning, and slicing deli meats and cheeses.
Department store racks will be scoured for wider waistbands.
Bars and restaurants, clubs and dance halls will throw open their doors and welcome the traumatized masses, stumbling in to relearn dances, to rebuild their tolerance to cocktails, and use public restrooms.
The streets will sound with joyous rapture and merry harmony. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” to coronavirus.
At least…for now.