That is my name for this end of summer time of year; when the shadows begin to lengthen, the light from the sun softens, birds have stopped singing so exuberantly in the early mornings, leaves are just now becoming flushed with tinted yellow on their edges... I remember an interview with beloved children’s author, Tasha Tudor, a few years back. She lives, writes, and gardens on a secluded piece of property in the woodlands of New England. The interviewer asked her what is the first sign that heralds the end of summer where she lives. Tasha thought for a moment and responded, “The song of the crickets begins to shorten.”
I envy her. I thought then, and still do now, how marvelous it must be to live so closely tuned to the natural world.
I try to savor this shifting of the shadows season; it passes by so quickly.
And on its heels comes ”back to busy-ness” for me.
My children return to school this week, work is gearing up with promoting our new season, many performances to attend, functions to schmooze at, endless networking, grants to write, meetings, meetings, and more meetings... all of which challenge my compliance with this blood type diet I have chosen to embrace in my life. Remember... it is always a choice.
I have found, and perhaps you have too, that I am able to resist tempting avoids when my protein needs are adequately met. I need protein. Good, high quality protein. My body sings when I have enough protein. And I need protein frequently, not large amounts, but at least at every meal and one or two protein snacks during the day. On the rare occasion that I find myself needing protein with no ”good” protein available, I eat what I can get. Yes, even chicken. My bodily needs for protein outweigh my desire to be compliant. But I do make every attempt to ensure that this is indeed a rare occurrence.
So, I am going to take time now to make sure I have available fast, easy, and portable sources of protein. My favorites are tamari roasted almonds, small containers of yogurt, usually vanilla or lemon flavors, the sugary fruit-at-the-bottom ones are too sweet for me and the sugar seems to nullify the boost from the protein, and cans of sardines packed in olive oil - even though I like the brisling variety, the skinless and boneless type is kinder to the breath which the general public will thank you for.
And I will be sure to relish this favorite season of mine. Maybe, if I attend closely enough, I’ll hear the change in the cricket’s song.
I had to drop off some artwork for work at a graphic artist in Manitou Springs this morning, which is just a mile or so from the Barr Trail trailhead. Barr Trail is the trail that ascends Pikes Peak. It has been almost 15 years since I hiked on this trail, but since I was in the area, I decided to give it a whirl.
So, after a high protein breakfast of two turkey sausage patties, yogurt with fresh peaches and 1/4 cup ground golden flax seed, a piece of Ezekiel toast spread with all time favorite Four Fruit Conserve and a mug of my new found love, ginger tea, the boys and I headed off for our errand, and then our climb.
Barr Trail has the greatest base to summit climb in all of Colorado with an elevation gain of over 7000 feet. It is 11.65 miles long. One way. And the first part of the trail is considered one of the steepest sections with 13 awesome switchbacks.
We began hiking late morning which, temperature wise, is not the best. It was ‘melt the soles off your shoes’ hot out there. Because of the heat, I promised the boys we would only climb up for an hour before turning back.
So we began, counting the switchbacks along the way. There is no other word for it but grueling. Yet I didn’t really notice how steep the climb was until reaching a clearing and realizing how high up we were.
At exactly one hour from starting, we just finished the last of the 2 miles of switchbacks. From there the trail levels out for a bit, passes under a rock tunnel, traipses through an open grassy meadow... much more pleasant and less of a grunt.
However, we choose grunt over pleasant and turn to go back down the grueling trail. Usually, it takes only half the time of the ascent to descend, this trail took much longer. Going down, I really felt the steepness, a thigh burner for sure.
At the bottom of the trail I saw a sign announcing the days of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon races were about a week and a half away. Yes, there is a 26 mile marathon that covers the ascent and descent of Pikes Peak, the Ascent race just runs up the mountain. Most male marathoners make it up and down the mountain in about 3.25 hours, women in about 4.5 hours. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one. Check out pikespeakmarathon.org for info on this amazing race.
Back at home and we have a late lunch of turkey hot dogs with pickle relish and Lowensenf, a German hot mustard that will burn new openings in your sinuses, all wrapped in a spelt tortilla, Yum!! And my head feels oh so much clearer too! I also have a Ginger Gold apple from Austin Farms, a local organic orchard. So wonderful to eat a really fresh apple again that hasn’t been in storage for months.
The rest of the afternoon I spent back at the computer. We’re gearing up for our new season that coincides with the start of school mid August and I am working on going to press with the brochure. After hiking, I feel perfectly content to sit at the keyboard for awhile... Ah, the sweet joy of stillness.
Postscript... In my last blog I mentioned hiking at Horsethief Falls. At the start of that trailhead I saw a man taking a picture of himself in the parking lot. I immediately recognized him as Steve Garufi who has a blog called Colorado Guy and his website is, you guessed it, coloradoguy.com. Anyway, being the obnoxious boor that I am, I yell out “Hey, Colorado Guy, How’s it goin’!” He graciously smiled at me and said the hike up the falls is beautiful (which it is). Anyway, true to form, Steve has pics from his hike at Horsethief Falls posted on his website. So you can see pictures of Horsethief Falls and Horsethief Park taken on the same day that I was there. How’s that for timing!
OK, so it isn’t that exciting but I thought it was pretty cool.
Gee, I sure hope so. Wisdom is hard to measure in oneself.
Yes, today is my birthday and, as is my nature, tends to cause much somber pondering and reflection.
I have not been exactly looking forward to this one. You see, I am 43 today, beginning my 44th year on this planet. And I have had 3 friends die of cancer. All were 44 years old at the time of their deaths. I believe all were diagnosed with cancer around the age of 43. One from breast cancer, one from lung cancer and the other from pancreatic cancer.
Although, I don’t have any indication that cancer is part of my future, one really never knows for sure, does one?
My friend who died from breast cancer challenged all my beliefs around cancer. At the time, I thought changes in diet and lifestyle, living completely by macrobiotic ideals, would cure any cancer. She was very healthy by the standards at the time: vegetarian for 20 years, engaged spiritual life, fulfilling relationships, etc. And she tried all the alternative treatments available, macrobiotic diet, IV vitamin C therapy, other injection treatments, all to no avail.
By what I believed to be true, she shouldn’t have died. But she did.
I am no longer as naive as I was back then. I don’t think anything can protect you from disease; reduce the chances or likelihood, probably, but protect... no. Not even the blood type diet promises protection. I remember a quote from someone years ago that went, “If you eat only healthy, organic food, drink only pure water, exercise and meditate regularly, get plenty of sleep, but do so from a place of anxiety you are in no way maintaining your health.” That phrase has stuck with me all these years. I now measure my wellness by the amount of anxiety I feel, my willingness to challenge myself in all ways, the sense of ease and flow I feel within my bodymind. That is my definition of health.
Now on to brighter musings....
On Saturday, hubby took me out on a rare date (no kids) for a pre-birthday dinner. A wonderful little loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm, arrived on the table. I asked my husband to cut me a piece and as I was taking my first bite he said, “Well, is it worth the wheat?” I chortled at this comment and he responded, “That is the question, isn’t it?” Oh my yes, isn’t that ALWAYS the question when debating avoids. So easy to avoid at home, so tempting elsewhere. And in this case, no, it wasn’t worth it. I did order the rack of lamb that came with a small salad (removed the tomato and onion slice), wild rice (no, not worth it) and lightly steamed asparagus, carrots and snow peas. The lamb was served with tomato butter. I had no idea what that was and being the curious sort, did not asked for it to be removed. The tomato “butter” was just pureed tomato (definitely not worth it)! I scraped it off the meat.
I always order a pot of herb tea when eating out and in this case had peppermint. Warm tea is so soothing and even when eating compliantly I sometimes have trouble with restaurant food, usually due to anxiety or feeling a little tense in restaurants. When in a state of balance, restaurant food doesn’t bother me much... another health indicator.
Sunday, we went on a lovely hike in the high country, at about 10,000 feet. In the past, if hiking above 8000 ft. I would, after a while, begin to feel lightheaded. This hike felt like I was climbing in my own backyard, no dizziness or feeling lightheaded at all. The trail climbs to a secluded mountain meadow called Horsethief Park. Legend has it that horse thieves used the meadow as a hideout. Many trails here follow mountain streams and this one was no exception. We followed the stream to Horsethief Falls, an extraordinary cascade down a granite face. Water sliding like liquid poetry. I went to sit by the falls and noticed some more falls above it, climbed to those, and again, more falls above. I never did get to the top of all those falls. We also began the ascent to Pancake Rocks, a sandstone formation that looks like a towering stack of pancakes. As it was late, we did not make it all the way up but savored some fabulous views of the valley on the way. And absolutely no noise of civilization whatsoever. Then, and only then, can one really hear the song of the wind. It has such a beautiful voice in the trees...
I could go on forever, you know, trying to describe the serenity and unsurpassed beauty I see in the natural world but my words really cannot contain my experience...at least not yet.
From death to life... full circle.
....... ahhh.... ginger...
I have recently rediscovered my old friend.
Fresh ginger root, well rhizome actually, has long been one of my favorite spices. I was feeling “under the weather” recently and had a yen for ginger tea. I have been drinking it practically every morning since.
I love the smell of freshly grated ginger on my fingers and always put my hands to my face to breathe in that refreshingly aromatic scent... and I have learned after that first whiff it is best to rinse it off my hands for if the juice gets into eyes... oooh... yowser!
I use a nub of ginger, freshly grated, about half the size of my thumb to make a nice cup of tea. Use the smallest holes or blades on your grater to make a fine, juicy pulp. Although ginger has a reputation of being a soothing and warming beverage, it can also be an irritant to the stomach if too much is used. I find that often happens when using the pulp in a beverage mixture, so I use a garlic press to extract only the juice and discard the pulp. Or you can just squeeze the pulp with your fingers into your mug...and inhale that marvelous scent on your fingers... ahhh...heaven.
To sweeten the tea, I like to use honey, the tastes blend together well on my palate. A trick that my naturopath taught me is to brew a pot of ginger tea with a little licorice root for sweetener, so beneficial for most B’s. The licorice does tend to nullify the ginger and take the “bite” out of it , so this is something to try if you don’t like the sharpness of fresh ginger. On the topic of sweeteners... I read on a label of fructose that even though fructose is still identified as fruit sugar, most fructose is made out of corn syrup... so B’s beware!
Ginger, honey and juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon is an excellent tea for colds, digestive and menstrual cramps. Ginger is also good for promoting circulation.
When I was attending homebirths, we used ginger in perineal compresses. Fresh ginger root was part of the “birthkit” the parents-to-be needed to assemble prior to the birth. Toward the end of the first stage of labor, we would get out a saucepan, fill it with water, cut up the ginger root and simmer it on the stove. Oh.. it filled the house with such a lovely aroma... and we would soak cloths in the liquid for warm compresses on the perineum. It did promote circulation which helped reduce perineal tears during second stage. And all the women remarked how wonderful the ginger compresses felt.
Ginger is also a universal beneficial for all blood types (neutral for AB secretors). So if you have a mixed blood type family like myself, you can use ginger without restraint! Try it in bean dishes, stir frys, casseroles. We substitute powdered ginger and a touch of cloves for cinnamon in our granola recipe... I like it better than the cinnamon version which me being a cinnamon lover is really saying something.
Ahhh.... ginger... good to see you old friend.
My oldest son (O) has spent the past 10 days with his grandmother excavating on the Western Slope. She is a member of the Colorado Archeological Society, and volunteers in the summers at active sites. Last year they retrieved a partially flinted Folsom point - a spearhead of the Folsom peoples who lived in the region about 10,000 years ago. It was quite an exciting find for them, and also fun for my son to do fieldwork for actual scientists and hang out with college students.
So, for over the past week, I have been absent my partner in carnivorousness (yeah, it is a word - I looked it up). I didn’t think much about it until it came to making meals for the A’s, both my husband and youngest son are blood type A.
Now, my husband is such an A... we knew from reading the blood type descriptions that there was no other blood type he could be, and of course when he was typed, our perceptions were deemed accurate. He has thrived on a vegetarian diet since he was about 13, been practicing yoga since the age of 12 which turned into a daily practice around the age of 16. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times he has NOT done his morning yoga in the past 17 years that I have known him. He is the type that if we had to leave the house at 5 AM to catch an early flight, he’d be up at 3 just to make sure he gets in his hour of yoga to start the day. It seems essential to his well-being. I’ve learned to live with it.
I noticed, much to my chagrin, with just the veg heads in the house that I tended to make meals with them in mind, catering to their needs and forgetting my own. Like making a big pot of black bean soup for dinner. Or choosing to prepare salmon for my son when what I was really needing was some heavier protein that day. Since my O son will be leaving the nest in a short couple of years, this was quite the enlightening experience. It felt almost too indulgent to prepare food/meat for myself only. Don’t know where that’s coming from but certainly something worth excavating.