Saturday, October 4, 2008

The State Park, the Farm-Raised Trout

Today was quite a busy day, compared to how other weekends have gone. It's important to me because of the message at Rosh Hashanah services, where the rabbi asked us what we'd do if we were granted $86,000 every day. You have to use the money because it doesn't roll over, and if you do nothing with it you lose it, just get more money the next day. He suggested we'd take the money and save it or blow it.

Well, we get 86,000 seconds every day and we should make the most of them. We should spend as many of them as possible rather than letting them slip by and expire. I think we came closer to that today.

Granted, we didn't wake up until 11:00 AM, because we'd stayed up late, but we did hit the ground running. Without even cleaning up we threw on some clothes and hustled out to the St. Paul farmers market. There's this one guy, Todd Thomas, who manages his own trout farm, and the trout he raises are downright addictive. He feeds them mussels and clams, raises them naturally in a clean environment, and these little bastards are so tasty! We grabbed quite a few packages, along with some broccoli and a lot of chicken, and came back home to get cleaned up.

We wanted to get some exercise so I researched State Parks--hiking trails in particular--and decided on Afton State Park. We dropped some books off at the library and headed out, less than an hour's drive away, breezing past a "pick your own" apple orchard. We renewed our State Park sticker on the car and I discovered a new thing: this little metal medallion you nail to your walking stick. Traditional in Europe, Minnesota has recently adopted this practice in the last two years, and the rangers at this park are surprised at how popular they are. Rebecca is mystefied by my perspective: I'm less motivated to go out and check out a State Park for its own sake, but now I'm all fired up about seeing as many as possible just so I can collect these little medallions. Maybe that sounds messed up, but I'm really excited about it: I'm going to buy a walking stick and I'm going to line that bad boy up with little metal plates.

We hiked around for nearly two hours, too. The weather was fantastic, brisk but sunny for an autumn day. The leaves were turning, people were out boating along the river, and I got a couple dozen pictures of interesting plants along the way. I'll post them up on Flickr soon. At one point I asked Rebecca whether I should bite the bullet and become a nature photographer; in response she sucked in her breath and assured me there was no dearth of such a creature.

The hard thing about hiking around a State Park is doing so in Minnesota. When you run into other people, you can't just smile and say "hello." The encounter necessarily turns into a huge ordeal to see who can muster up the strength to make eye contact, who has the brazenness to speak up first and speak loudly enough to be heard. And then say that you do throw your pride into a basket and look at someone and say "hi:" there's every chance they'll purse their lips and snap their head away, or simply keep their head hunkered down and pretend nothing happened. It really contributes to one's bitterness, like another dose of mercury in one's liver, and it makes one less willing to put any energy towards this basic human consideration.

In short, it sucks ass.

We enjoyed our hike and drove home. One of us had a minor freak-out about the advanced state of chaos in our apartment, and I went out to start the grill for dinner. That is, I started the grill and then snuck back in to grab a beer, the corn, the trout and tinfoil, some canola oil (to clean the cooking grid), and a fistful of paper towels. I was going to set out there and set good.

At length, Rebecca came out to join me just as the grid was shiny and clean, and I wrapped up the fish in foil and placed it on the grill with the ears of corn. Rebecca brought a large dish of sliced zucchini--I do love grilled zucchini--and we spread those out to toast. Our neighbors had set up their fire pit and were about to cook some food (I overheard them preparing zucchini, funnily enough) and Rebecca took the initiative to start social contact. High fucking time, man. I wish I had the bravado to do something like that, and to this point our neighbors hadn't gone out of their way either. It's all Rebecca for the win.

We chatted nicely enough, talked about cooking and jobs and geography. R. and I went back to tend to our food and practiced memorizing their names--I am terrible at names--and scooped up everything for dinner. We set up trays in the living room and watched the episode "Choices" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Season three is really, really good. Everyone agrees the Mayor is such an excellent villain.

Rebecca's washing the dishes and I'm blogging about the day in various blogs. Bella has come up from the basement and is curled up on my right, on the couch in the sun room. Toki has climbed down from the painting ladder and is trotting off to see what Rebecca's up to. I hear people chatting outside, enjoying one of the last pleasant nights we'll see this year, I'm sure.

I would not poll everyone in this household, but if you asked me, I would say today was a very good day.

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