I spent a lot of time this winter and spring in a cave of my own making, shying away from people, from a social life. I am, by nature, a homebody. Running is my social life, and when I was injured after the marathon, I was down, I was defeated, and I hid in my cave, missing the energy of my body and my friends but sinking deeper and deeper into a miasma of self-alienation. Even once I started running again, I didn’t feel like myself, not until I cut back on my solo runs and started going back to my team’s workouts and running (slowly) in races. But I didn’t truly feel like my life was my life again until last week, when I ran an entire speed workout and at the end, after a slow start but a strong finish, our coach, Jared, smiled at me and said, “I love to see that. The athlete in you always comes out.” Then, this past weekend, two of my good friends and teammates got married at the base of our hill workout in Astoria Park under the Hell Gate Bridge, and, with the bride in a beautiful white running dress, led us on a group run over the Triboro Bridge and into Manhattan. The next day I cheered on another good friend and teammate as he competed, and kicked ass, in his first triathalon. There’s something fulfilling about being part of a community. Continue reading →
A video went viral recently in which an explorer and documentarian, clad in a heat-protective suit, climbed down into the crater of Manu, an active volcano on the island archipelago of Vanuatu, later describing it as a “window into hell,” like looking into the center of the earth. The churning, bubbling, exploding sea of lava before him sent chills down my spine, in utter awe of the life within our world. But in those crashing waves I also saw something else: I saw a pot of sweet, spicy, boiling, churning oatmeal.
It’s one of my favorite sounds: milk and oats, rising and colliding and becoming more than they were alone. Expanding, creating. I have my method: milk, brown sugar, a healthy dose of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Bananas folded in off the stove, topped with sliced almonds and another sprinkling of cinnamon. Toss in some blueberries and it’s heaven on a cool morning. Delicious, filling, and – time consuming. It got me thinking: can I make this in muffin form, for an easy, grab-and-go breakfast treat?
Like everything we are and do, baking has its roots. Feet and hands planted in memory of something larger than life while we are very small. Chocolate chip cookies after school with Mom. Brownies with your best friend during a sleepover. And pancakes, every Sunday, with Dad.
I remember standing on a chair in the blue-flowered kitchen of our weathered grey Long Island ranch with a metal spoon in my hand, making the “eggs” that would form the well of dry ingredients for the wet. I may have also measured or dumped ingredients. I may have stirred. But that image of watching my hands create perfectly-shaped ovals with my spoon as I pushed the flour up the sides of the bowl is enduring. It was as tactile as playing with Play-Doh. The soft give of the flour, leaveners, and salt beneath my fingers informed my entire being of what it meant to create. Continue reading →