Bind Yourself to Something

Made some crab cakes Saturday and they were not bad. I tend to crave seafood this time of year, when the winds grow blustery on top of the heat. I think of things like the Edmund Fitzgerald, my friends out in New England, the trips Mr. S and I have taken in places where wind is a factor in plans for the day, the way wind whistles and howls in the nights, the sounds of lost pails and flyers left on doorknobs and children’s beach balls blown across lawns to the edge of ponds, where they catch themselves in the rushes and sit there for what may be all of time. I think of the entrance winter makes, so quiet and unassuming, cloaked in swirls of leaves and the waves of prairie grasses. I wonder why – of all the seasons – autumn is rife with nostalgia, and consider how, if memory has a sound, it would be much like that of October winds.

People are talking about the upcoming holidays, about who is hosting and who can’t travel this year and what day would be best. And, soon to come, the sign up lists for who is bringing what, and phone calls where mothers or sisters or daughters or sons insist,” I am doing the turkey this year.” There’s some Christmas shopping happening, a kind of sudden thing, where you find yourself at a fall festival with booths full of handmade soaps and knit caps and embroidered towels and jar upon jar of apple butter and you think how this would make a perfect gift, or this is exactly what she has been looking for and you buy not one but three, just in case, and so the pile in the storage closet begins.

It can be lonely time, all those memories blowing through under gray and cloudy skies. But it is snowing today, look out there and see, and there is much to do. Loneliness will not abide well in one who has something to do and does it. Things feel more like solitude when you have purpose, and the thing to do, my friends, is find some purpose for yourself and go with it. Might be volunteering for some kind of political event. Might be giving time to the local hospital where there are babies needing rocking and people needing someone to read aloud letters from faraway places. People needing, simply, another human being there to listen to words. There are halfway houses and refuge centers and wandering teenagers all needing food and clothing and even books and chocolate. There are food shelves with space in them and neighbors with whom you have yet to share a conversation.

Bind yourself to something, and let it carry you awhile. Not all will be solved, completed, perfect or good, but it doesn’t need to be. We are alive for a while, another season in the wind, and I’m all for a to-do list, and purpose, and where it might take us. Even if it’s only down the street, to find out the name of that man who always waves and smiles, and place in his hands a plate of banana bread, warm, and wish him a good day.

Here’s something fun and spicy and simple, good after a day out in the woods
or cleaning up the garage.

Spicy Crab Cakes
1 lb fresh crab meat
1 egg
¼ cup mayo
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T Thai chili sauce
½ T cumin
½ cup bread crumbs (fine)
1 cup cornmeal
2 T butter
Pepper to taste

Combine everything but the butter and cornmeal. Form into 12 cakes.
Coat lightly with cornmeal, and sauté in butter until golden brown.

Papaya Chutney
2 cups papaya, seeded and diced
¼ cup diced onion
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup sugar
1 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp cider vinegar
½ cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and
cook until thickened. Serve it up with crab cakes, and something good to drink.