Abraham's Plateau by Davis Morton

ABRAHAM'S PLATEAU / 2002 / oil on canvas / 19" x 27"... Read a painting comment below...

     Traveling in the desert with some Eritrean soldiers, the driver was the only one who spoke any English. Going into Ethiopian territory along a narrow cliff road tanks that had fallen from the road looked like broken toys a hundred feet below. Small villages were many miles and hours apart.  And as we would approach each one, Habtom would look at me with the expression of a person who was giving an important gift. "David... coffee ceremony."
     Like him, I would always look delighted, but I was always thinking, "Oh God, not again." In a one-room hut or tent, a woman would take a small cement oven from beneath her bed. She would crush coffee beans with a stone, and with a goat tail she would waft the aroma of the cooking coffee toward her guest. Then she would serve us popcorn, as we'd smile and slowly sip the coffee.
     They say the Rift Valley is where we all came from. So, if Habtom was here what ceremony could I show him? As a person who can sincerely celebrate the value of simplicity, would Habtom be envious of what we value most? Or would he also be thinking, "Oh God, not again," if I tried to please him with our barrage of empty entertainment?