A Happy Autumnal Equinox

23 Sep

Something happened today that brought tears to my eyes: I found a George Winston CD.

I’ll explain.

There are bits of memories of my childhood that stand out – some more than others – but there are a few that pop up quite often, hugging me with familiarity.  One of which is listening to the Dan Fogelberg and Al Stewart CDs my parents would play when they were entertaining.  Another is dancing to Christmas music with my sister during the middle of summer in the “sunroom,” dressed in winter snowsuits.  But the one that I’m often reminded of more than the others was a simple glimpse – one of the few times as a child when I stepped back and took a reflective look at things.

We were living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma at the time (a tiny oil-driven town), and it was the middle of a bible-belt fall.  While the land was very flat, there were parts of the town where tall tress and small roads wound through the countryside.  My parents had just purchased a brand-new Lexus – it was shiny and black with slick, tan leather interior.  And it had one of those pull-down middle armrests in the back seat.  And it was big.  AND it had a tape player.  (This car leaves a specific spot on my heart, as it was the car I ended up taking to college with me.  I was the most stylish RA on campus.)

So after bringing the car home, we all piled in.  I remember not particularly wanting to go – I was probably whining about something and Jenn was always on the move, even at such a young age.  But nonetheless, the four of us piled into the car and just started driving.  We started down that windy, tree-lined road and crossed over that rickety old bridge as my dad put in a tape: George Winston’s “Autumn.”  It’s piano music, an album that my parents would listen to over and over, especially in the car.

As we drove along, my dad, in his effort to make me stop grumbling said, “Jill, just listen to this,” and turned up the volume.  At that moment, I did – I listened to the familiar melody, my elbow giving in to the slippy leather of the armrest and the turns of the car, and looked out the window at the trees going by.  Jenn was unusually still and quiet and my mom was relaxed with her head against the large tan headrest.  I listened to the music, wondering if I would ever be able to play the piano like that.  And I vividly remember looking at my dad, my mom, and my sister and realizing why we all got in the car in the first place: just to take a drive.

I don’t remember falling asleep, but I do remember waking up with my head on that armrest.  The music was over, the drive was over, and that’s where the memory fades.

Today, conveniently being the first day of fall (Rob reminded me that it’s actually the Autumnal Equinox – I love that my husband and I share nerdiness) and a day off from work, I delighted in waking up to the foggy, cool air and enjoyed a late breakfast with a friend.  Then, making the most of the quietly celebrated day, I drove down one of Oregon’s tree-lined windy roads to Bandon, a town about 30 minutes south of where we live.

Bandon has an “Old Town” area which is great for knick-knack shopping and artsy-fartsy stuff.  The first store I entered was new to me – a quaint, privately owned gift shop filled with the cutest, well, gifts I’ve ever seen.  In the mist of getting some good Christmas ideas (as well as picking up yet another cookbook – no, I don’t have enough), I turned the corner and saw a shelf of gardening books and a few eclectic CDs.  Not paying too much attention, I quickly browsed through the CDs, and there it sat: George Winston’s “Autumn.”  Just one copy.  I just looked at it.  I may have even shaken my head in disbelief.  And then, in true Jill fashion, proceeded to tell the owner the whole story behind this CD while she was ringing me up.  Yes, I was that customer.  And that happy.

Practically skipping to the car, I tore off the packaging and turned on the car.  As the first song started playing, the feeling of that familiar music, the drive, and my parents, filled me.  Again, in true Jill fashion, the tears welled up, and I had a small, sobbing moment – on the first day of fall, I was listening to “Autumn,” the most unlikely CD to find in a gift store in a teeny vacation town, remembering one of the most humble memories I have of my family.  This really is the best season.

If this is your first time reading 42potatoes, first, Welcome!, and second, this is actually a food blog.  Though this post obviously had nothing to do with food.  So, in good spirit, I’ll provide a treat: the yummy crab cocktail I had for lunch.  Super simple, super fresh, and a great combined reminder of my parents: my mom loving a good shrimp cocktail, and my dad driving miles to get good crab legs.

Delight in your memories, and delight in fall!  And eat good food!

Crab Cocktail (serves 2)

  • ½ lb. fresh, lump crabmeat (I had Dungeness, our sweet local variety)
  • a small handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 1 heaping tbsp prepared horseradish (I like a LOT of horseradish in my cocktail sauce – go easy if you don’t like the heat)
  • a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce
  • zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • zest of a lime
  • cracked pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley, to garnish

Mix all the ingredients for the cocktail sauce together (everything but the crab and tomatoes); season to taste. 

In a serving bowl, mix the crab, tomatoes, and cocktail sauce together.  Squirt with a bit more lemon, and a sprinkle of parsley, if desired. 

Listen to George Winston, and ENJOY! 

One Response to “A Happy Autumnal Equinox”

  1. Peggy September 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    You will have to bring George along with us to Clackamas. I love your writing style. You make me want to somehow find the time t do some writing. I miss it. You have a book in the making with these posts.

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