Saving Grace

by Bill Hufnagle
aka Biker Billy

Oh, what a beautiful day it was today! What joy to be outside under a perfect blue sky, vacant of clouds with warm sunshine and just enough of a breeze to be refreshing. It has been just the kind of spring day that makes a man’s heart beat to the sound of internal combustion thunder—motorcycle thunder, to be precise. Living as I do along a windy country road in the mountains of western North Carolina, that sweet sound of a motorcycle engine powering through the hills can always be heard. Especially on days like today. In fact, I can hear one in the distance now, walking through the gears. Is the rider pursuing some destination, or just accelerating for the pure joy of it? It matters not to me, for I can hear the music, and since this evening I am bound to this laptop, riding a rocking chair on the porch, the music will have to do.

This whole day has been filled with that music of motorcycle thunder. I have enjoyed hearing it to no end, although there was a short time this A.M., when it was a painful test of my will to resist riding. This lovely first day of April had found me with a conundrum of sorts. I had anticipated reasonable weather for this weekend, just not this fine and sweet, and in preparation I had stocked up on supplies and fresh gasoline for a mission. As impossible as that mission might have appeared, I was hell bent to achieve it.

When I have that purposeful mindset, there is little that will stop me. I have ridden across states in hard-driving rain, rain so bad that the cars pulled off the road. Yet on I pushed, past sense or reason, simply because I was hell bent. I sure have ridden some big-time miles in horrid weather, perhaps too foolish or hardheaded to stop. I was that hell bent today. On a day as fine as this, when riding is a pure joy, like swimming in cool clear water on a hot August afternoon—refreshing, invigorating, exhilarating . . . heck, one thousand words could not describe it, let alone one. If you ride you know what I am speaking about, and if not, it is a good example of the old saw: “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand!”

Well so much for short descriptions. Suffice it to say that I passed the test; I resisted the siren call of motorcycle thunder, much like Odysseus resisted the Sirens’ songs. In fact, I used a similar technique: I lashed myself to the task at hand. The yard. The backyard, to be exact. A lapse of attention to the details of winterizing the mower, combined with unusually warm and rainy spring weather, had turned my backyard into a cross between a jungle and a hayfield ready for harvest. This was my first available day to mow, weed-whack, and prepare the organic garden for planting. I knew that if I did not get on top of this situation now, I would spend the rest of the month’s weekends trying to catch-up with the beast of grass.

I felt like an April fool—the first of the month, a perfect day for riding, and me stuck with chores. This was the price I paid for letting other things—like work and joy riding—keep me from the mundane tasks of proper machine storage. My one prior chance to do this work, a grey day not perfect for riding, was when I discovered that my lawn mower needed repairs and maintenance. I missed that chance to mow, and between then and now the backyard went from green to jungle. On top of that, I also had to write this column, and Spring Fever had clouded my mind all week. So I missed this great Saturday of riding, stuck like a delinquent teenager doing yard chores and homework.

I had wanted to ride today so much; I needed to ride for the inspiration to write. The only saving grace in all of this, besides the now picture-perfect lawn and a garden almost ready for the season, is the important thing I remembered. I realized that I had forgotten—much like I had forgotten the mower servicing—to book myself for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Experienced Rider Course (ERC). Come Monday morning I will call and get scheduled for a weekend class so I can work on readying my riding skills for the season. From fool to school, how cool it that? Do yourself a favor—invest in yourself and take a MSF Rider Education course. That way my missed day of riding will not go to waste.

Squash Latkes

3 large eggs
1 fresh long slim red cayenne
pepper, stemmed and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups, peeled, seeded and shredded
winter squash
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
Oil, for frying

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash and onion. Add the cornmeal and toss well. Then add the egg mixture and toss to completely combine.

Heat several tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan. Place the latke mix by heaping tablespoons into the oil and flatten gently with the back of the spoon, forming thick patties. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Turn and fry the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. The latkes should be golden brown on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Drain on paper towels and serve piping hot.

Makes 4 servings

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Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2006. Recipe reprinted with permission from “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” published by Whitehorse Press, Center Conway, New Hampshire copyright Bill Hufnagle 1995, 2004. Biker Billy hosts a syndicated television cooking show, “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” and has authored three cookbooks. Check out www.bikerbilly.com where you can acquire autographed books and also find information on Biker Billy’s touring schedule.

 

M.M.M.

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