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SNEAK PREVIEW - A cold sweet nectar on a hot summer day

This work in progress is a homage to the quintessential Lebanese hospitality. It was inspired by a journey off the beaten path, to a remote village nestled on a mountain, a striking old red door and red windows, and the comforting memory of warm hospitality and a cold sweet nectar on a hot summer day.

My mom and I.

Another trip.

Another destination.

We strolled along the old souk.

An ancient barber shop whose master practiced his half-a-century old skill on his lone gray-haired client.

A dim shoemaker store exuding scents of leather and glue.

A busy haberdashery with mismatched boxes and weaved baskets overflowing with buttons, ribbons, threads, and other sewing knick knacks.

The village grocery with colorful, neatly manicured stalls and dangling displays of seasonal fruits and vegetables-Earth's freshest offerings.

A makeshift idle youth hangout, boasting a billiard table, a few bottles of alcohol, and handmade ice cream in the midst of eclectic surroundings and painstakingly collected traditional antiques.

Wait a minute. Did I say antiques? We went right in. "Could I take some pictures?" I asked, brandishing my big camera and an even bigger smile. Pictures I snapped, while we were treated to two much craved cups of coffee and the elaborate history of the village and its people-compliments of our very extrovert host. Goodbyes made, we moseyed on leisurely, the road and scenery leading our footsteps... left after the house with the green fence, another left after the waterwell, then up and down the steep winding road to the village staircase. Suddenly, my eyes fell on an imposing, traditional style home, with a bright red door and red windows--the type that has no chance of escaping the keen eye of my camera. As I was snapping a picture, the door opened, leading the way to a middle-aged man and a teenage boy. They had seen us approaching from the window. They thought we were foreign tourists, me with my camera and my mom with her trendy backpack and charming straw hat. They invited us in for a refreshment. The lady of the house appeared and insisted we go in. So we did. We always cherish these adventures and the friends we make along the way. The inside of the spacious home was humbly furnished and told stories of a good old past. Our hosts' faces and hands told of hard labor and endurance, their eyes of contentment and peace. Our hostess disappeared for a few minutes and came back with two crochet-dressed glasses filled with a fragrant golden nectar--homemade apricot sharab (sherbet). We exchanged small talk. It turned out we knew their cousin from the States. Talk about a small world! We left after a little while, sharab recipe in hand, sweet refreshing taste of the drink and the hospitality in our mouths and hearts.

We will always remember the house with the big red door and windows and the amazing hospitality of its owners and their village people. And it will live on in this piece inspired by them and created in their honor. Can't wait to see how it will turn out. It is certainly taking shape.

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