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Poor Man’s Feast: On the Birthday of the World

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I’m penning this from a quiet area in our longtime-rental Maine home.

The window in entrance of me faces out onto a thicket of native wildflowers — goldenrod, candy pea, wild rose —and already, the wind has picked up pace and, like a tough cosmic cough, is violently blowing the flowers earlier than returning to stillness. To my proper is a sheltered pond — it’s hidden, and I not often examine or deliver the canine there as a result of it’s dwelling to a lot chicken life; a Nice Blue Heron lives there and has for just a few years, and at each 5 pm, he goes fishing off the shore of the ocean that’s, as I write this, about fifty yards to my left. Late yesterday, at low tide, we noticed a household of Bald Eagles perched on a bit sandbar that emerges twice a day without work our rocky seaside. We had been strolling Petey right down to the water, and two ladies, one among whom grew up on this road, swimming in these ice chilly waters, handed us their binoculars and mentioned Take a look. We did, and there have been the eagles, unmistakable and noteworthy.

The place do you suppose they’ll go, Susan requested me.

No concept, I mentioned. I believe to them it’s simply extra climate.

This group — it has welcomed me and Susan and Pete for years now, and we count on to drop our anchor right here completely as quickly as we probably can; it’s difficult with an aged guardian who can’t be moved, and no siblings to assist — is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Lee, which is ready to roll proper previous New York and smash into Cape Cod and coastal Maine tonight. Nobody right here appears to have turbines and are as a substitute simply doing what they’ve all the time achieved in preparation for a storm: water, batteries, meals that may be cooked on a propane stovetop, bungeeing grills to decks, taking part in playing cards and puzzles and candles. Having lived by way of many massive storms, Susan and I are oddly calm, and though we’re from away, we now have many good buddies right here and are taking our cues from them. Panicking will not be a specific a part of the Mainer DNA. Nonetheless, I discovered myself listening to the stunning Richard Shindell this morning, singing the outdated Carter Household track The Storms Are On The Ocean. As a result of proper now, they’re.

Does it not make sense that our egoist human tendencies and each sin that comes from and with them may be changed into nourishment for the paranormal vertebrates who stay within the darkest locations we can not see and don’t perceive.

After we returned to the home yesterday, Susan made us a honey cake to mark the start of The Days of Awe: the Jewish New Yr begins tonight at sunset, and is all the time celebrated with candy meals, that the approaching yr could also be a joyful and good one. It feels applicable to be right here in Maine for the vacation not as a result of I’m formally observant in any method — I’m not and by no means have been; I’ve specific and personal views about my Greater Energy — however as a result of to be so near the ocean is to be in a liminal place the place the edge between the understandable and the ineffable is skinny as a reed. That is the best way of the ocean, which ebbs and flows in line with the phases of the moon; the Jewish New Yr is calculated in line with the lunar cycle, and on the primary day of Rosh Hashanah the custom — it’s referred to as tashlich— is to forged into the ocean bits of bread representing our sins of the earlier yr, to be carried away on the tide. I’ve all the time imagined the bread of a thousand sinners being eaten by fish — the thought of an harmless creature swallowing my transgressions feels incorrect — after which I come again to this place: does it not make sense that our egoist human tendencies and each sin that comes from and with them may be changed into nourishment for the paranormal vertebrates who stay within the darkest locations we can not see and don’t perceive.

We’re within the throes of a lot change — my mom is getting outdated, we’re getting older, Petey is so outdated now that he doesn’t fairly know the place he’s each night time and we’re investigating remedy for canine dementia, I’m ending my subsequent guide and making notes for the one following it — that I spend lots of time simply standing within the ocean, within the hole, feeling the pull of the present and the undertow, and I do know that if I don’t stand laborious and bury my toes within the sand, I may simply be knocked over and dragged out to the tiny islands that lie offshore. We’ve by no means seen anybody swim off our rocky little seaside, though as soon as, throughout low tide, we watched a grown man stand-up paddle board his method out to the closest island, cool his heels a short while on the sandy seaside, after which paddle again to the place we had been watching him, whereupon his historic mom toddled right down to the shore with a sandwich for him and a sandwich for her, they usually sat down collectively on a rotting log and had a bit lunch.

The person stood up, walked to the sting of the shore, and threw crusts of bread into the ocean; all I may consider was sweetness and redemption.


This put up was initially printed on Elissa Altman’s weblog Poor Man’s Feast, The James Beard Award-winning journal in regards to the intersection of meals, spirit, and the households that drive you loopy.

Photographs courtesy of the creator.

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