Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bragging rights

My little brother, who's not so little anymore, is now a pastry chef with a rave restaurant review in a big-city newspaper. In my eyes, he may as well be the Next Food Network Star. The review came out on my mom's birthday, which most certainly made her day more special.

We ate at his restaurant on opening weekend--okay, the server didn't know where the fish came from (except that it was from the market down the street), but the food was fantastic. Who knew that cheesecake with crumbled Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries could be so good? He has only been in culinary school since last September, but he's a favorite among his professors and an indispensable asset to the restaurant. Now he has a clip to show potential employers, and someday, he'll be pastry chef to the stars. So yeah, I'm just a little proud of him.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dodging horse poop on the ol' trail

Today I went bike riding on a portion of the American Tobacco Trail in Wake County. It's part of the Rails-to-Trails program, and someday more than 22 miles of railway-turned-recreation path will wind through the Triangle area. The portion I rode on is about 6.5 miles long and wind through forested areas in mostly undeveloped (not for long) Cary and Apex. The three trail heads include gravel parking lots with new waterless restroom facilities. They call them "sweet-smelling" toilets, which are little more than outhouses with better air circulation, but I applaud the effort anyway. I'm not picky about toilets, but these were pretty decent.

Anyway, riding on the trail brought back old memories of riding on the Katy Trail in central Missouri--the crunch of the clay and gravel path, the rustling of the trees and buzzing of the insects, the faint flowery smell of nature, and the friendly like-minded people enjoying some outdoor physical activity. Being on the trail here felt like being back in Missouri. There were maybe more pine needles on the trail here, and less wildlife, but plenty of fresh air and sunshine abound. On this trail, they allow horses, of which I saw five, and as they passed I caught a whiff of barn dust, horse sweat, and worn leather. For a moment, I missed the days of riding lessons and summer camp. Bike riding in Missouri was one of my favorite activities, something that brought me such joy, and today I remembered how much I love it. Many times, I have said to myself, "this, this is my religion." Nature and movement and music. Perhaps someday soon they'll finish the trail--the section just north of this one is still rough-going. But as I rode home, listening to the Splendid Table on NPR, I got a renewed craving for the little things in life, be they outdoor adventure or the tastiest lunch ever. Today I had both.