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Friday, 19 December 2014

Wayfarer

There's a small church on my right, as I drive by, painted gaily in bright shades of yellow and green.
It sits perched precariously on a cliff edge with straight, sheer drops into the Atlantic.

On a whim, I stop, braking far too suddenly. I shake my head at myself. My dangerous impetuousness. But it's done now. I'm here.
The doors are open and I walk in. I am slightly nervous, I don't know if I am trespassing. But then it's a church. And I remind myself that no one is ever a trespasser in the presence of faith.

I look around me, but there is no one in sight. I am alone. Like I want to be.
It's cool inside, dark, the brickwork shading the glare of the strong West Indian sun
Stained glass windows throw streaks of rainbow light  across the floor.
The effect is dreamy, otherworldly.

I kneel down
Fold my hands
Close my eyes
Whisper a prayer

For the health and happiness of those that are mine.
For my children. That they are kind to the world and that the world is kind to them.

Outside, far away below me I hear the faint sound of waves crashing on rock.
I wonder if that's the beach my husband is on with my two boys. I wonder, if I strain hard enough, I will hear the sound of their laughter, their loud excited squeals as the warm turquoise blue of the Caribbean washes over them, smothering them, and then recedes into dark, unknown depths.

But I dont. It's serene where I am. I hear nothing. And time seems to stop.
The setting, the silence, consumes me.

My sea is calm.

And then a bell tolls.
11 chimes, in rythmic, musical succession. It's 11 o'clock. I've been here too long.

And suddenly I am restless again.
I imagine my kids asking where I am, my husband wondering why a stop for milk is taking so long.

So I get in the car and drive down the winding path. Too fast for my own good.
My mind is everywhere
Falling down the rabbit hole fast and furious.
Searching for the answer to a question I don't have.

For I am a wayfarer.
A vagrant.

So I run to the kitchen.
Where I know is safe.
And dance to the nuance of unspoken words.

Here's what you need:
- 6 large skinless snapper fillets
- 125g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Cajun spice mix
(2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 21/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 11/4 teaspoons dried oregano, 11/4 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

Here's how you do it:
Brush each fish fillet liberally with the melted butter. Combine the Cajun spice mix, then sprinkle thickly over the fish. Use your fingers to rub the spice mix evenly over the fillets. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. When the pan is spitting hot,  cook the fillets in batches pan for  a few minutes on each side until you smell nothing but the aroma of the spices released by the heat, and each surface is well charred. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and serve hot.

I serve this with a simple side dish of chickpeas.
It needs:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- Handful of sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tsp each salt and whole cumin seeds
Simply fry the chickpeas in olive oil until soft and well-coated, throw in the sun dried tomatoes and season with the mixture of salt and cumin.
I serve this on four plates.
It's gone in a blink.
And I am satiated.
I breathe, relieved. It's rare for me, this feeling of being satiated.
But I am.
This is the stuff that feeds my soul.

Tomorrow when the sun rises, I will need to find something else to do. Somewhere else to go.

I am a wayfarer.

But for now...
My sea is calm.