One summer while home from college I waited tables at an Italian restaurant in Laguna Beach run by some racist Milanese who’d recently emigrated from apartheid South Africa. How they ended up in Laguna I’m not sure, but their attitudes about people struck me as not only offensive but ironic considering that the kitchen and busing and cleaning staff were entirely Mexican. One of the other waiters was Reynaldo, a guy I liked, from Brazil. I’d been listening to a Brazilian musician (Nana Vasconcelos) whose latest album was titled “Saudades,” and I asked Reynaldo what it meant. Reynaldo, by the way, spoke English better than I did.
Reynaldo’s answer was my first lesson in the poverty of my native tongue. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember pretty clearly his frustration at trying to translate into English that single Portuguese word. Google’s definition (above) comes close to his translation but maybe because the concept the word conveys resides in the darker emotional spectrum Reynaldo’s exasperation still resonates with me: it can’t fully be said. It must be felt. I envy language like that.
So, with about a week left in the chukar season, I’ve been feeling very saudade. This season is the first time in more than 20 years I haven’t sighted a chukar behind one of my dogs. If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m prone to self-pity, and it’s peaking right about now. I admit it, but am determined to do something about it. I’m not sure what, but it’s worse than I expected: missing the season was one thing, but missing it with an increasingly remarkable Brittany puppy and another beloved and accomplished chukar dog in the prime of his short life, both of whom have had to make do this fall with one bitterly cold, snowy quail hunt and the occasional spectral ruffed grouse, is something I hadn’t anticipated.
We’ll get ’em next year.