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 →
It’s Not Over Yet Peach Pie
You. Hey you. I saw you out there, splashing in the waves. Bathing in sunlight. Grilling on your patio. Saying good-bye to summer. I saw you dreading the cold of winter, still three months away. But I have news for you: it’s not over yet. Labor Day may have come and gone late this year, but it’s still hot. It’s still summer. We’ve got another two weeks of it, so if you’re in mourning, perk yourself up a bit and get thee to the farmer’s market. It’s peach pie time. Continue reading →
Baked Peach Crumble Donuts
I am made of water. I crave it. I love to run beside the Hudson and East Rivers. I yearn salty ocean waves foaming at my feet. When I’m near it, in it, I feel whole. And yet — the power, its depths, the unknown, terrify me. The fear of being toppled and tossed around by a wave bigger and more powerful than any water within me has kept me from wading out more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I leave the beach without ever being further than knee-deep, when what I crave — nay, what I need — is to be in it and of it.
All of that changed — finally — last week, on my final day of a family vacation in Cape May, NJ. Let me correct that: in the final hour of that final day. With my fella and my dad beside me, I relearned how to face those waves. It’s the silliest thing, really, the truth of it. That it’s all simply a matter of preparation, of being ready for what comes, of accepting. See a wave that you can’t jump? Take a deep breath, before it’s on you, and duck. It doesn’t need to be a competition between you and the wave. Like jumping, you become one with it. Then you rise, unscathed, and simply wipe a bit of salt of from your eyes. In it and of it.
I did not want to get out of the water. Yet I didn’t feel the regret that usually consumes me at the end of the day.
And so I left Cape May, land of historic Victorian houses, fudge and saltwater taffy, dolphins, and so many childhood memories, with a newfound respect for the phrase “roll with the punches.” It would be an understatement to say I’m ready for the cool embrace of fall. But I’ve spent too much time fighting summer’s existence. Thinking I can jump it even when it’s too big to handle. Feeling miserable from the heat. Sick and dehydrated from the humidity. But yet, I realize, with it has come the sweetest peaches I’ve had in years.
At this end of August, there are already apples at the farmer’s markets. I spotted Greenings at one of the stands in Astoria two and a half weeks ago. And I was tempted — so tempted. But I still haven’t had my fill of tender local peaches. Of sweet plums. Of juicy tomatoes and tiny kirbies and crisp peppers and all the wonderful things that are here because summer is a sunny, hot, miserable time of year. I’ve been eating peaches every day with my breakfast: diced up into oatmeal, as a side to toast and eggs, folded into Greek yogurt. And now this: baked peach crumble donuts. Because along with all the fresh ones unchanged by the heat of an oven, we need to incorporate them into flour and butter and sugar and make them more.
Peach and Almond Crostata
Until the last week of August, summer in NYC was feeling a lot more like early fall. Sixty-three degree mornings that made you want to jump out of bed for an early morning run; temperatures plummeting overnight, saving your electric bill with open windows and your stomachs from takeout – I actually turned my oven to 550 degrees for a considerable amount of time over three nights to make pizza. Even the warmer days were cool: we finally hit that moment when, despite the thermostat calling out 85, breezes felt like they were coming overland from Canada, unsheathed from ice. It was respite. It was relief. It was the coming of cinnamon and scarves and spices.
Of course, summer returned with a vengeance, two days after two friends, during a 15-mile, multi-borough training run, hoped aloud that we would get some heat to make fall marathon training easier. Thanks, guys. Several days hit the lower 90s. Were there breezes? I have no idea. I think they were stuck somewhere in the swimming pool that became the atmosphere.