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A Quest for Fleeting Grace

By Tim Hazell

In aboriginal societies, communication through mimetic gesture, sign systems, and language developed form the premise that there were invariant principles, representing a kind of unity and infinite choices, a form of variety that determined how any system of information exchange could function. Animals exclusively and humans under conditions of stress use holophrastic “utterance” as a means to convey states such as fear, hunger, and surprise, usually a single exclamation or cry. These sounds invoke many levels of meaning at once.

When the intent is to convey nonverbal states of feeling, then color or scent may perform similar roles. Among birds, fish, and insects, certain colors initiate courtship while others pinpoint sources of food. The systems present in natural phenomena impose legibility on the processes of sound and symbol usage. Both must charge and concentrate expressions, leaving as few gaps in our understanding as possible.

Ancient hunter-gatherers shared symbiotic and ritualistic connections with other living creatures, treating them as equals. This poem by West Indian writer Eric Roach reflects the ancient “I-and-thou” concept as an unbroken covenant.

At Guaracara Park


Speed was survival there in the green heat,

where the lithe hero dashed from the leopard’s leap,

fled to cover from the feral fang,

or ran the antelope across the plains.


Creation legends and rustic sciences evolved concurrently throughout the Americas. The word “sacred” is still invoked when speaking of human relationships, origins of the creative muse, and therapy. In native societies, rhythms of planting and harvest and manufacture of ritual objects, tools, and musical instruments belonged to a world of transient things. Native oral and written traditions produced works reflecting wonder, terror, humility, and dogged perseverance.

Fundamental human emotions were revealed in native poetry, philosophy, and humanism. Cultures have left us rich chronicles documenting the fragility of life and beauty’s transience. Nezahualcoyotl (coyote who fasts), (1402–1472), was a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet, and ruler (tlatoani) of the city-state of Texcoco in preconquest Mexico. The following verse expresses his quest for fleeting grace and his pessimism for what lies beyond.


We only come to sleep,

we only come to dream,

each spring of the grass, that is how our making is,

it is not true, it is not true that we came to live on the earth,

it comes and sprouts, it comes and our heart opens corollas,

our body gives out some flowers, it wilts!


This spice rub, an exotic blend of cocoa and chili powder, brings ancient Mexico to the table!


Cocoa Chili Spice Rub


2 tbsp. brown sugar

1–2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp. Mexican chili powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Good pinch cayenne pepper


Combine all the ingredients. Use as a rub for pork chops, tenderloin, roast, whole chicken, chicken legs, or thighs. This recipe makes enough for two small whole pork tenderloins or 6–8 chops. Allow at least two hours to marinate before grilling or roasting.


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