Rare places

mejadra burrito
majedra ingredients
Pile o’ rice, spices and sugar

My travel adventure this past weekend was local, on foot, and painful: Sunday morning’s 8-mile trail run marks the first time, or at least the first time in a very long time, in which at least half the run was painful. It appears that I may have a stress fracture somewhere in my foot, so I’m going to relegate my traveling to wheeled and metaphorical modes, for a spell.

While there’s not a whole lot of beauty in news of an injury for someone as active as me, there is some: it may give me time to tend to some of the other things I like to –or need to– do.

One example of such a pastime is reading: after my run, while RICEing my foot, I finally finished a book I started reading a few months ago: Wade Davis’ Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. I’ve read perhaps 10-15 mountaineering expedition accounts. Some of them covered the same expeditions from different angles, and this was no exception. Unique here was the author’s effort to help me understand the background and mindset of the men on these three early (1921, 1922, and 1924) Everest attempts. Specifically, the story explored the impact that the Great War had on them, many of whom served in that war. It gave me new appreciation for the simplicity of logistics on the climbing trips I take with friends, and reminded me of the strength of bonds between climbers. This was a very enjoyable read that got extended because the very heavy book didn’t travel with me on any of my last few trips.

Another pastime that is facilitated by a sore heel: cooking, especially as I was able to persuade Steve to get the groceries. Last week I stumbled upon this Serious Eats article about a middle eastern dish called mejadra. The photograph of the huge pile of home-friend onions caught my attention; that the recipe used whole coriander and cumin seeds was a good sign. Also appealing, when I know that more bean-type nutrients in my diet is a good idea, is the fact that it’s a lentil dish. I pulled it together within an hour, rolled some of it up in a tortilla, and dug in. The bright flavor and the crunch of the onions render this recipe a keeper. It’s not all that rare for me to cook on a Sunday, but it is rare for me to decide to do it in the middle of the afternoon, rather than starting cooking at around 7pm. This allowed for …

san pablo church, valladolid, mexico
Devotional art in Valladolid, Mexico

Next up for the invalid: movie night, and I’d been craving a submarine movie. One of the few movies I own on DVD is Das Boot: it is one of my favorite films, perhaps due to the combination of the tension on a submarine warship and also the poetry of the ending of the film. But, I usually wait a few years between viewings, so I picked another in the genre: K-19: the Widowmaker. I’ve seen it before, and remembered that it wasn’t as good as Das Boot. In spite of a few flaws, it was worth watching again. This time, I discovered that it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Thankfully, it has some of the storytelling qualities that later earned The Hurt Locker an Academy Award. So … yes, a foot injury is helpful for reconnecting with a love for film, as well.

Provided I can handle an hour or so of walking around a museum, next weekend I hope to check out the Cast Icons: Preserving Sacred Traditions show at the nearby Museum of Russian Art. Back in 1999 while in Nice, France I visited a stunning Russian Orthodox cathedral. The place was lined, practically upholstered in gilded icons, and it was nearly blinding but also fascinating to consider both the craftsmanship of the creators and the devotion of the owners.

I’m feeling disappointed in myself for allowing this injury to happen, but also pleased that in it is an opportunity to turn to other things. In addition to some reading, off-hour cooking and movie watching, this may include finishing a knitting project, updating my design portfolio, or digging into a board game with Steve, more often.

Here’s to exploring opportunities. Have you ever had an injury that created possibilities that had seemed … impossible? Note: the aforementioned knitting project was started in 2005.