onsdag, juli 19, 2006

A Garden Party

Not so long ago I voyaged into unfamiliar waters: a lawless place without snacks. The change for me has been very much like the challenge smokers face when attempting to quit cold turkey, I think. To my knowledge, we've yet to invent a snack patch that slowly releases high-end sugars into one's bloodstream.

Gone are the days of ice creams and cookies...at least in my kitchen. I reserve full right to have a dessert with restaurant meals. And, I confess that I reserve the right to use my ice cream maker once every six weeks or so.

No Oreos, no Scottish shortbreads, not even faux-chocolate Snackwells. Gone even are the baguettes of French bread I'd buy at the bakery on the block, for even those I'd pick at until it was apparent I was eating half to three-fourths of a loaf per day.

(Sprawling sidenote: The word "loaf" disgusts me in the same way the word "chunk" disgusts me in food terminology, as in "chunks of chicken"...though in the Loaf Situation it may be solely the result of that scatalogical pinching phrase. The word chunk, however, when spoken seems to make one sneer slightly around the nose, as if you're daring the listerner not to react. Look at someone. Glare. Mouth, "Chunk." It's freaky. It's almost as unnerving as demonically whispering the phrase, "My friend is the class clown.")

It's agonizing, I'll note, not to snack. I even try to avoid snacking on carrots. I don't even want the oral fixation. Away with you!

So here I am getting healthier and the lungs are on the mend. Well done, boy. But yesterday the hill running program produced a most unusual pain: a full body splint.

While shin splints are not an unfamiliar sensation for me during the running season, about an hour after yesterday afternoon's hill run I stepped and felt the old sparking flare in my left shin. Fair enough. Then, inexplicably, it rocketed up my body, tagging my hip, playing one side of my ribs like a glockenspiel, and coming to a rest all the way up at my collar bone. (Hey: I like the word clavicle. It looks, actually, like it's trying to morph into a palindrome.) "Everyone all right?" I asked aloud. Everyone seemed to be, though I could still feel the resonating electricity of that nerve charge.

Is it possible to have a full skeletal splint? without the use of, say, a taser? Or perhaps I'm discovering super powers at work in me. Or maybe lesser powers.

Despite all my ridiculous snackilogical ruminations and concerns, I'm having some grand meals these days. The Farmers' Market is producing plentifully, and with mums and grams in town the past couple days I've feasted on tomato bruschetta, skewered vegetables, game hen, and creme brulee one night with a fine riesling at the Downtowner Woodfire Grill; followed the next night by spinach-artichoke dip, veggie panini with mozarella, mango sorbet and two Belgian blondes named Leffe. (Leffe is a "blonde" beer, by the way.)

I realized yesterday that most of my life in Saint Paul revolves around sitting outside, walking/running, and eating. I realized that's why I love it. It's a wonderful place for daily living, you see. It's a patient city, not necessarily the sort of place that will go out of its way to entertain you. You pretty much supply your own energy. It's like a leisurely paced film. You can sit for hours just talking and laughing. Here, you're supposed to...but only if you rise at an early hour and put in a respectable day's work.

Last night's long dinner in the garden at Frost exemplified this. It was a joy. (Hmmm. If you can get past the hokey "We're refined" use of violins on Frost's home page, you can take a tour of the patio area. Lovely. But violins like that always make me think of 19th-century frock coat- and ball gown-based period costumes and finger sandwiches.) I'm very fortunate to live in a neighborhood with so many outdoor dining options. We've a four-month window here to really seize upon the weather, and we take it. I adore this.

Eat, and eat well.
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