Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Slow Run, Slow Food

Winter approaches. The clocks have changed. It gets dark so early now. It’s time for slow food.

I have Wednesday evening mostly to myself these days. The nest is empty and my wife works late. My natural tendency is probably to grab something quick for dinner and waste the evening by flipping mindlessly through the TV channels or surfing the web aimlessly. There are times, though, when I find myself in a Moose Hill state of mind and I plan to prepare some slow food and go for a run up Moose Hill while dinner is cooking.

Tonight, it was a veggie bake. When I prepare dishes like this, I like to make a lot. I figure I already have the ingredients and tools out and I have to wash the dishes anyway, so I might as well make plenty so there are leftovers. I coat the bottoms of two big covered casserole dishes with olive oil and fill them up with chopped potatoes and all kinds of other vegetables; usually lots of carrots, a few onions and something green. For protein, I throw in some chick peas and edamame if I have it. I liberally sprinkle on salt (Possibly too much!), cumin, a dash of hot pepper, dill, paprika and any other seasonings that catch my eye. The dishes go into the oven set at about 300 degrees and I head out the door. (If this post sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about this before. See “Moose Hill Moosewood,” January 16, 2007.)

I set my stopwatch and walked down the street. I had to run across Main Street to avoid traffic, so I kept going at a slow jog. I was feeling good. I had the usual aches and pains that age and mediocre conditioning provide, but there were no health issues to blame. There was a long line of cars creeping up Depot Street, commuters returning home from the train station and the highway beyond. As always, I was glad I can stay close to home and don’t have to face that battle every day.

The evening was warm for November (In the low 50’s.) so I knew I might be slightly overdressed. The evening always feels colder than it really is when it’s dark and my metabolism is already slowing down so I tend to wear too much. By the time I had walked and then jogged for ten minutes and was half way up Moose Hill Parkway I was ready to shed my light fleece top. I hid it behind a tree at the beginning of the Kettle Trail and continued on my way, leaving jacket and cell phone behind. I checked my heart rate monitor as I passed beneath the street lights because in my own casual style of training regimen I try to keep my workouts aerobic this time of year. That means I like to keep my heart rate between about 120 and 140 beats per minute to build an aerobic base for harder training as spring approaches. This sounds good, but what it really means is that runs and rides this time of year can be slow and lazy.

With the surgery and sickness of the summer behind me, I’ve been feeling stronger, so on this night I decided to extend my usual run to the top of the Parkway and press on to the summit of Moose Hill itself. If the moon was up yet, it did me no good hiding behind the overcast that blew in after a beautiful sunny day. The Summit Trail was dark and a fresh blanket of fallen leaves obscured the details so I had to slow my jog to a walk. This was fine because when the trail turned up the flanks of the hill a fast walk was all the workout I needed.

When I reached the summit and passed under the fire tower it was too dark to read my watch, so I don’t know what my time was. I wanted to compare it to the time this summer when I struggled through heat and illness to get to this place, not knowing I was carrying Lyme Disease. No big deal. I was feeling strong and happy and that’s all that mattered.

As I turned to head back down the rocky trail, my workout took a back seat to safety. I had visions of breaking a leg in the dark and having to claw my way along on my belly because my cell phone was half way down the hill in my jacket pocket. I went slowly until I was back on smooth ground.

I ran back down the road and was mildly proud of myself for remembering to pick up my jacket and phone. Along the way I started thinking about the Quakers. Every Wednesday night since the beginning of the Iraq War a small group has been standing on the street corner in the center of town to remind us that people are fighting, killing and dying in our name. On the news today we heard more about how our State Department is outsourcing the killing to Blackwater. In another story, I heard that a carpenter’s union is outsourcing their strike picketing to homeless people and others hard up for a few bucks. When I stopped for a few minutes to chat with a lone protester, I was happy to see he was still doing his own vigil-keeping. We still have heroes, unsung though they may be.

When I got home I was happy to see the front porch light on, even if I had left it on for myself. Dinner was done to perfection with the chick peas just slightly crunchy. The kitchen was warm from the oven. For a few moments in the quiet house, it felt like I was able to bring a little bit of Moose Hill home with me.

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At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like you're enjoying that empty nest a little too much if you ask me..

At 8:56 PM, Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

Great idea that makes you happy to come home - even if the house is empty.

Glad you're getting to feeling better.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Larry said...

That sounds like a tasty dish. Sounds easy to prepare too.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Lilly said...

I'm always refreshed when I stop by your blog. In this story, the peace and contentment of warm, nourishing food and healing and nature is challenged by the intrusion of the violent world. How often we go about our business, seeking our personal welfare, ignoring the horror going on all around us.

Of course, if a person only thought about war, cruelty, and greed he or she could easily become overwhelmed by it. My oldest daughter, who works on the front lines of social activism, gently reminds me to take time, like you describe, to cook good food and care for the spiritual body. But lately, I see more of the horror, and I am moved to stand on street corners with your Quaker friend, and cry out for the world's attention.
Best wishes,

At 11:23 AM, Blogger robin andrea said...

Sounds like a great hike-run and a delicious dinner to come home to. I bet the house smelled really yummy when you opened that door. It's good to read that you are feeling well.


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