La Noche de San Juan. When I read about this Puerto Rican feast day on both Evelyn’s and Julia’s Facebook status updates, I suggested we drive to Niles Beach in Gloucester to enact the ritual, one which Puerto Ricans, at home and “away,” follow each year on this day. At midnight, you enter the water (ocean, river, lake, bathtub) and throw talismanic “ingredients” over your shoulder into the water, encanting (en español, por supuesto) the areas in which you hope for good fortune: flowers (“amor!”), fruit (“salud!”), coins (“prosperidad!”)...and then, honoring the M.O. of St. John the Baptist himself, you throw yourself into the water. Backwards! Seven times!! Fortunately we were blessed with a warm night, warm sand, warm water and a moonlit beach all to ourselves...until just after our midnight ritual, when a young Belgian fire-juggler (with a burned and bandaged right hand, just saying) came along. We coaxed him out of his clothes and into the water so as to give a saintly boost to his love life, health and prosperity. As you can see, Natalia is no stranger to posing half-naked in the middle of the night, even though the Puerto Rican native confessed this was her first noche participation ever. Evelyn and Julia, frequent St. J ritualists in their PR homeland, provided the guidance and enthusiasm that made this night a special one from start to late finish. ¡Gracias, chicas locas!