My Aunt Susie is a singer-songwriter. She lives in Durango, Colorado, with a cat named Scooter and a man named Mike. She smells like rosewater and nutmeg. She is also a great cook. We spent a long weekend together this past summer. Over the course of the weekend, we rode bikes in to town and drank Cupcake wine at night. One afternoon we raided the scent aisle of Vitamin Cottage and left with various essential oil samples on our ankles (we had run out of room for scent testing on our arms.)
On my last night, we had an “evening expression of art;” as I mixed together a Plum Clafouti, Aunt Susie played piano songs from her wheel of music. “Junction Creek,” a creek trail near Durango, is my favorite of Aunt Sus’s eclectic repertoire. Like music, “cooking,” she says, “is art to ignite all sense.”
I walked beside a creek today…..Spring run-off filled my ears.
I came to the bridge between:
Sunny path and shadow…..
Dry ground and spongy mud…..
Downward cruise and upward climb….
Junction is the name of that creek…..It’s a junction time of year.
I’m at the crossroads between:
The former and the future
At Junction Creek
I walked beside a creek today…..A snake slid across the path
Splitting the moment between:
Sleepy steps and pounding heart…
Daydreaming and mind awake…..
Planning a day and meeting with a snake.
Junction is the name of that creek….It’s a junction time of life.
I’m always at the crossroads between:
The former and the future…….
— Susan Merrill
Aunt Susie also once taught a Native American cooking class and wrote a cookbook. Somehow learning about this part of her past was not surprising. Below is a recipe from the Zuni tribe of Arizona. It’s a summery southwestern dish with corn, zucchini, and green chiles that invites me back to Santa Fe while providing a nice punctuation to this past summer and the coming fall.
(makes 6 servings)
6 ears fresh corn
1 1/2 cup finely ground sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cup finely chopped summer squash
1 cup water
2 mild green chiles, chopped and roasted
Place kernels, milk, squash, and sunflower seeds in a heavy saucepan with water and cover. Simmer or 1 hour. Remove cover and cook off excess water until mixture reaches a pudding consistency. Salt and add chiles.