The Portugal Years – Year One: The Summer and the Winter Were the First Year










And suddenly, or so it seemed, the year had rolled around to June 30th once again. It had been two eventful years from the time I visited Portugal until our first anniversary. I was comfortably settled with the culture, and could speak well enough to go on with, but my ears…well, the Portuguese words ran past my ears much more quickly than my ears were able to catch them.

Harry, in spite of the landlady’s consternation, had painted the living room. We went to the store to pick a color. I was looking for a very pale peach to lighten up the room. Someone should have warned me. What looked like pale peach on the paint chip became pumpkin pudding on the wall. We lived with it. It made a great conversation starter.

I had become a competent food shopper by listening to and watching the Portuguese women shop. There was fresh produce all year ’round, but winter time was the time for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage – and Harry didn’t care much for them. We got through it with a little cheese sauce poured over them and sometimes a hollandaise sauce.

Soccer barged into my life. I learned that Portuguese boys often learned to kick a soccer ball (futebol in Portuguese) before they could walk. And the aficionados of soccer are even more passionate about the sport than baseball fans in America are about going out to the ball game. I did find it much easier to watch than baseball.

My formal language lessons ended, but learning to speak Portuguese would be an ongoing project. Writing in Portuguese is fraught with its own pitfalls. Written Portuguese is much more formally expressed than in conversation, and requires great care in the writing. Another challenge was that two people in our organization were raised in Brazil. Brazilian Portuguese is less formal. Is it any wonder that people who didn’t know me thought I was Brazilian?

And, of course, Harry and I continued to hold a hope in our hearts that our dream would come to pass. We were ready, but the dream was not. We still had Sammi cat and I wasn’t lonely during the day.

Harry took me to a seafood restaurant in Lisbon to celebrate the first anniversary of our wedding. He had been saving up for quite some time so he could give me a lobster dinner. It was delicious, and we finished the meal with a performance of Cherries Jubilee.

cherries jubilee

The summer and the winter were the first year. And President Jimmy Carter was finishing his last year in office.





Have you ever eaten a flaming dessert?  What do you think you would like about Portugal?


21 thoughts on “The Portugal Years – Year One: The Summer and the Winter Were the First Year

  1. It was after my very first multi-course, multi-Michelin Star meal, that the waiter suggested a dessert called Banana’s Foster. It flamed, and it was incredible. Fortunately it was not my last such meal (what an experience), but it has been decades.


  2. You’re making me hungry. Other than the flame part, most of those desserts are simple to make. 😉 Thank you for coming by and commenting.


    1. Cherries Jubilee is flaming cherries prepared at the diner’s table. Here is a gentleman reading the Bible in Portuguese. He has fine diction. You can follow along if you have a Bible handy. It starts with the Gospel of John chapter 1. If you cook, you can try the food. There are pockets of Portuguese in some places in the states. Rhode Island, north east Jersey are two of them.


      1. Not yet. Oh no, not yet. He was talking about the news.

        Well, as you probably know, they actually first appeared in a dragon’s den. Dragons like to barbecue, and they like a sweet ending to their meals. Instead of toasting marshmallows, they mixed some liquid spirits and sugar on a charger and gently breathed on the cherries until the spirits were spent. They only ate them after the flame had been extinguished.


      2. I always carry my electronic translator with me. 😉

        I read somewhere that once you have mastered five languages, the rest are relatively easy. It makes sense. So many of our English words come from French and the Nordic/Germanic languages. The difficult ones, as I see it, are the eastern languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Chinese and so on. Those would be a challenge for me.


    2. The professor did not know this about dragons! What an interest. I say, it would be kind if they invited me to their barbecues–that sounds very good indeed!

      Awesome! Well, get to work right away, and learn all the languages. I’m sure you’ll be able to master them. (Hebrew would be difficult.)


      1. Well, they tend to be shy and try to blend into the landscape. St. George did a number on them, you know? Anyway if you see a stream of smoke in the distance, it’ll be gone by the time you get there.


  3. What a compliment, I think, for someone who is refining one’s new language, to be thought of as a Brazilian! That is amazing! It means you had such a command that others thought you from the greater region!

    I’ve not had flaming deserts. They do sound tasty, and like fun to see though.

    So enjoy these entries. It’s like a travelogue, yet much more personal. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much. Brazilian Portuguese is more casual than continental. I’m glad you are enjoying the posts. It’s a walk down memory lane for me. I’m glad you’re coming along.


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