Look I’ve been lonely, you see.
Lonely for the clickety-clack of toenails on the floor, for the softness of silken brown and white hair, for the great mad joy that greeted us whenever we’d been away—for at least eight minutes.
And oh, so lonely for my kitchen companion, eyes fixed on the cucumber being peeled, the chicken being stripped from the bone, the tangerines emerging from their fragrant peel. Just in case a wee morsel should fall her way…
You do know of whom I speak.
So when the neatly packed box from Thailand landed on our doorstep, and these little creatures popped out of their brown paper wrapping, as merry and cunning as I had remembered…
My heart skipped a beat.
We met in Bangkok: They were lounging in the window of a shop filled with lacquered offering dishes and heavy silver tribal jewelry. Oh, there were irresistible treasures on display: Carved dancing girls, fierce masks and Laotian silk shawls…
But I only had eyes for these dusty little cubs. Once upon a time they were guardians of a village temple in northern Thailand. I imagine them in the doorway, each holding up a paw to repel the “hungry ghosts” that lurk in dark and shadowy places.
So fearsome, so mighty, so…cute!
Yes, their teeth are long and sharp. And they might nip your hand—but they’re not roaring, or even growling. If you look closely, they’re actually laughing, as if to say, “Aren’t we having fun?”
Like William’s Blake’s Tyger, “burning bright, in the forests of the night,” one cub has a wild gleam in his eye that reminds me of a deliriously happy pup who ran in mad circles as she chased horses in the back pasture.
It’s true that tigers are symbols of power and might, creatures to be feared and respected, but, um, you’ll notice that these cubs have manicured nails. A little grubby to be sure, but after all, they’re just tots.
No sooner had I unpacked them than the tigers took up a position by the front door, almost exactly where the pup once snoozed. True guardians, they’ll keep bad karma from entering our sacred space.
Now, I wonder what they’d like to nibble…
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, filled with laughter and unexpected delights.
P.S. You did stock your pantry with coconut milk, didn’t you? Delicious Bangkok recipes are coming your way in 2013!