A delicious treat reminds Ishmael of a special place.

Source : http://www.highlightskids.com/Stories/Fiction/F0600_sweetMilk.asp...

Grandma's houseIshmael lived in Missouri with his mom and dad and little brother. They had lived there for years. It was home. It was the only place Ishmael could imagine feeling homesick for.

Then one summer Ishmael went to visit his grandma. She lived in the West Indies in a country made up of two islands called Trinidad and Tobago. His mom and dad and little brother went along, too.

First they drove a hundred miles from their house to the airport in St. Louis, Missouri.

Then they flew to Nashville, Tennessee, and to Miami, Florida, and to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and to Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Ishmael had been born in Trinidad, but he had moved to the United States with his mom and dad when he was very little. There were lots of things about Trinidad that were strange to him. There were lots of things that he had forgotten.

Lizards are everywhere!He had forgotten how big Grandma’s house was, with upstairs and downstairs and sidestairs. It had four full bathrooms with openings high in the brick walls. He could take a shower at night and hear birds and frogs and crickets outside.

He had forgotten that even the inside walls were concrete block. They were plastered smooth like wallboard, so he didn’t know how hard they were until he banged his head by accident. That hurt!

He had forgotten about the metal roof that made rain sound as loud as hail.

He had forgotten about the bats scrabbling above the upstairs ceiling at dusk as they got ready to fly from the eaves of the house.

He had forgotten about the lizards. They were everywhere outside, on the garden wall and on the mango tree and under the rosebushes. Some of them even lived inside the house. They caught tiny moths fluttering around the light bulbs at night.

Delicious fruit!He had forgotten about the strange and wonderful fruit—juicy mangoes with no strings to catch in his teeth; bananas that were tiny and smelled like apples; green coconuts with cool, sweet water inside; plums that were too small; papayas that were too huge; sweet oranges that always had green skins; and sour oranges with skins that turned bright orange.

He had forgotten about relatives. In Missouri, his family had no relatives who lived nearby.

He had forgotten about cousins who wanted him to act in plays. They let him have the best parts, even though they giggled at his American accent. One cousin helped Ishmael’s little brother catch a huge praying mantis.

Ishmael had forgotten about baby cousins who wanted to climb all over him and who tried to do everything he did.

My cousinsHe had forgotten about uncles who bought him chicken nuggets and pizza and ice cream, and took him for drives over moun-tains, through rain forests, and to beaches and coral reefs. They had to fly in an airplane to Tobago to see the coral reefs.

He had forgotten about great-uncles who were doctors and who brought medicines for upset tummies and the sand-fly bites on his legs.

He had forgotten about the aunts who cooked mountains of spicy food and some special dishes with “no pepper at all” just for him.

He had forgotten about Great-grandma, with her tiny wrinkled hands and cool soft skin and gentle smiles.

Praying mantisHe had forgotten about cocoa that tasted spicy, not at all like American cocoa. He had even forgotten about sweetened condensed milk.

Ishmael’s little brother didn’t like the sweetened condensed milk. He had been born in Missouri, and their mom had never bought sweetened condensed milk in America.

Sweetened condensed milk in Trinidad was special. It was not just for making candies and desserts. In Trinidad, sweetened condensed milk came in cans, but it also came in little brick packs like juice boxes. Ishmael learned how to pull up the corner of a brick pack and cut it off. He learned to pour the sweetened condensed milk into a spoon and to stir it into tea or cocoa. He learned to trickle the sweetened condensed milk onto bread or, when no one was watching, to put whole spoonfuls in his mouth.

Then their visit to Trinidad ended. He had to leave Grandma and her great big house, and the rain forests and the coral reefs and the relatives and the fruit. Ishmael was a little sad.

I love this stuff!When they got back to Missouri, Ishmael felt homesick for Trinidad. It was strange to feel homesick for a place that wasn’t home.

One day Ishmael found sweetened condensed milk in the grocery store. Mom let him buy some. It came in a little tin, and it tasted just like the sweetened condensed milk in Trinidad. Ishmael thought it was better than all the souvenirs and photographs they had brought back.

With his eyes closed and his mouth full of sweetened condensed milk, it was easy for Ishmael to imagine that he was back in Trinidad.