Yesterday on our walk, the tide was as high as I’ve ever seen it here, churning at the stone seawall. The beaches had disappeared. We walked through driving rain and a hard wind, glad we’d worn knit hats and sweaters and raincoats. Dingo, who is always energized by cold weather and sapped by heat, scampered around like a hyperactive puppy. We kept up with him, both to warm ourselves and to get the daily constitutional over with as fast as possible.
Small branches had blown onto the path along the cliff, bright green. The underbrush was sodden and vivid. We saw no one except a couple of diehard runners trundling along with their heads down. Raindrops dripped off our noses. Our knuckles were numb. Dingo’s huge ears protruded from his little wet head, making him look even more like a bat than usual.
As we headed down along the paved bike path, looking out at the blurred green islands and heaving brown ocean, there was a sudden gleam ahead and a whir of an engine, and then a car appeared out of the rain, a beige, nondescript sedan, coming at us, very fast. Before we could fully register the fact that a car was somehow on the bike path or jump out of the way, it raced past us, grazing our raincoats. Luckily, Dingo wasn’t in its path or it would have hit him.
We stared after it as it barreled off.
“What was that?” I said.
“Crazy woman,” said Brendan.
The car stopped, down the path. Its taillights glowed red, and then it backed up, fast, right toward us.
“She’s trying to hit us maybe,” I said.
This time, we had the presence of mind to get out of the way. We retreated to the dirt footpath behind a bush, feeling silly, while I called 911. I felt even sillier doing this, because we couldn’t make out her license plate number, but I wanted to take some sort of action. She sat there, her car idling, while I described the car to the dispatcher, and then she took off again, forward this time. She would be gone by the time any cops could come to investigate.
On the way home, we stopped at the seafood market on Commercial Street. Back at home, warm in dry clothes, we sat at the kitchen counter and ate tender little silver boquerones on hot toast with mayonnaise, along with potato chips and small bottles of cold sake, solely for the purpose of restorative warmth, of course. We considered heating up the sake but decided that cold would warm the cockles just as well.
After he was toweled off, Dingo got some apple with peanut butter, which he accepted as his due, but delicately, not unlike a pasha being offered, on a silken pillow, a sweet pastry made of beaten gold, spun sugar, and the flour of a rare and precious grain brought from lands far off.
When the time came to cook dinner, as it always does around dusk, we reconvened in the kitchen. Brendan opened a bottle of rioja, better than the usual one we drink, and poured two glasses while I took from the vegetable bin the ingredients for tonight’s planned supper: boy choy and shiitake stir fry with peanut sauce and bean threads.
We looked at the vegetables for a while without much interest. We drank some wine.
I reached into the freezer and took out the package of ground pork we’d bought last fall at a farmstand. After I stuck it into the microwave to thaw, I minced mounds of garlic, cilantro, ginger, a Serrano pepper, and half a red onion. In a medium-sized glass bowl, I put dollops of rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, gluten-free oyster sauce, tamari, and lemon juice, to make about 1 1/2 cups of sauce. I whisked it all around, added plenty of garlic and ginger, and whisked some more. In a smaller bowl, I poured an equal part of boiling water over a big wad of peanut butter and stirred till it was smooth, then added that to the sauce.
To the thawed pork, I added the red onion, Serrano pepper, the rest of the garlic and ginger, the cilantro, and enough of the dipping sauce to moisten it well, about half a cup. I stirred the pork mixture as lightly and quickly as I could till it was all mixed together.
From the very bottom of the fridge, where they’ve been sitting untouched for months, I pulled out a package of the rice wrappers I’d ordered online from a Thai import company last spring, when we had a yen for shrimp spring rolls with peanuts, scallions, and mint. Evidently, they keep for a very long time in the fridge.
I soaked each one for a few seconds in warm water until it melted a bit, then wrapped a rectangular wad of pork mixture in it, burrito style. When there were 8 of them and the pork was all gone, I heated a layer of peanut oil in the nonstick wok and fried them in two batches for a good long time, until they were cooked through and chewy-crisp on both sides.
We sat at the counter and devoured all of the pork dumplings. The dipping sauce was spicy and full of different flavors, as dipping sauce should be; there was none of that left, either.
When our plates were empty, we drank more rioja and contemplated the vegetables on the counter one more time, and then I put them away for another meal.