It was in the negative degrees, and the roads sported ice as hard and dry as the concrete beneath them. Inside, we swallowed coffee that even piping hot seemed lukewarm. In came Leslie and another bearing plates, sugar and spice and everything nice. On one lay crumbly squares filled with a brown paste. Dates, said Leslie.

Dates. Here. In this red-and-green haven from the chill. Once upon a time, less than a year ago, I walked over broken sidewalks littered with the fruit, fallen from the trees, baking in the sun. I was tempted to collect them and taste, but the film of sand disuaded me. I went to a market and bought several packs, the fiberous sticky things bulging with health under the plastic. These were dates as God intended them. Lush and sanitary.

I took a bite of Leslie’s date bars and grimaced. Leslie is an excellent cook. But the fruit, having come who knows how many miles, was bland, even mixed with sucrose.

Ah, pour la-bas, ou le soleil se leve sur le sable. Mais bon. Ce-ci, je prefere quand meme.

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