Thursday, March 24, 2011

Like a Deer in a Puddle

In case you don't live in or near the Bay Area, it's been cloudy, cold, and raining for the past week. The next interval of merely being "partly cloudy" is not until Sunday. (It's going to be "mostly sunny" on Monday. Hurrah!) Since I am a bit of a cold wuss, I have not been able to get out for my usual running around after work in many days. However, after reading an article about how adults need to play more (thanks, Sarah!) combined with a few rays of actual sunshine while I was driving home from work, I was bound and determined yesterday to get outside for a hike.

I love hiking. I love it. I get out on the trail, and I suffer from prolonged, spontaneous intervals of grinning. I love to swivel my head around, looking up at the trees all around me, listening for animals as they move through the underbrush. My boyfriend has nicknamed me "Walks-on-dirt".

I arrive home, change into some suitable clothes, pump air into my bicycle tires, strap my Amphipod around my waist, and I'm out the door. Then, after wrangling my bicycle through my tiny house, along the narrow walkway, and down the steep driveway, I'm actually on my way to the park.

My thinking was, "It hasn't rained since this morning. The ground will have had all day long to drain, so it won't be muddy." In actuality, since there was 1) a lot of rain and 2) very clayey soil, the result was that the ground had been draining all day, and hadn't let up yet. It was quite muddy. But no matter! I was on the trail, hiking up at a fast pace, running whenever I felt like it.

A little over a mile out, it started sprinkling. No matter! It was but a little water, gently dropping from the sky. That was, until I headed over a rise, and the cold wind buffeted me, determined to show its might. I simply laughed in its face and kept on running down the path. As the trail curved around to head back, it started really raining. Okay, not so bad, I was mostly under the trees by then. About 50 yards from the end, it started really pouring. I ran for the nature center building and huddled under the overhang, taking this opportunity to stretch my calves. (Always take any opportunity given to stretch your calves. Or your pecs. Seriously.) Five or six minutes later, it had tapered off enough that I could run for my bike and begin the cold journey home. Thankfully my blood was pumping enough that my hands didn't freeze to the brake levers.

Of course, battling the elements just made me feel more unbeatable, so all the wet and cold was a bonus. However, like all bonuses, better to have too few than too many, just so you don't get tired of them. :)

I whipped up a delicious iron and protein-rich dinner: sauteed onions, garlic, clams and green beans in lemon butter, with a side of roasted sweet potato and a glass of white wine. One of my honey-sweetened pumpkin cookies rounded things out for dessert. Mmmm.

Looking at my diet right now, where basically everything I eat confers some real nutrition, I am amazed to think about the SAD (standard American diet), where at least 25-50% of calories are "empty", from refined sugar and carbohydrates. Just like any machine, I think the body can only run so well on inferior fuel.

So I challenge you, gentle readers, to make something new and nutritious. Actually try out that recipe that you marked, thinking at the time "this sounds good". It could be anything, from a stew to a salad to a fruit compote. Maybe use an ingredient you've never tasted before, or a new herb, or a new cooking method. Caramelize those onions! Roast that corn! Mince some fresh rosemary! Then tell me all about what you made and how fabulous it was to eat.

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