I'm someone, just someone who doesn't get out much. Bakers work odd hours in windowless kitchens. No wonder they seek exposure to the great outdoors whenever they can squeeze it in. Occasionally the great outdoors finds its way to the bakers.
I did not participate in Tuesday's ‘catch and release’ of the black widow spider. She piggybacked on one of three cases of organic eggs. I’m of the ilk that respects spiders well enough to give them their own space and honestly, I had my own wild kingdom woes to contend with. You wouldn’t automatically equate the Garden State with dangerous animals, but they seek out pedestrians, runners and bakers (who run) just waiting to pounce. This I know through a personal, harrowing experience.
Donning a pair of tired yet reliable gel-cushioned Asics and logging miles can be fraught with danger but it’s my sport of choice. This genetic pre-disposition (some would call it a flaw) of foot pounding pavement, I inherited from my father who, at the tender age of 87 just recently retired his running shoes.
The obvious challenges, uneven sidewalks, double parked cars, pedestrians walking four abreast and growling dogs all pose a threat. Yet it’s the silent, unseen hazards that you never anticipate coming around the bend. Especially if you reside in New Jersey.
Returning from a serious run in the early June heat, I noticed a suspicious, yet unidentified object hitching a ride on my leg. Never one to over-react, my voice can’t help but vacillate between hysterical whisper and outright scream; “My LEG! My LEG!!!” Fortunately, my spouse is not engrossed in theatrical box office grosses and looks up from the paper. I’m hopping on one foot, pointing, whisper/shrieking, “I think it’s a tick! Oh NOOOOO…” Without missing a beat, my calm-under-pressure trusty companion strikes a match, performs a tick-offa-me and suggests I cleanse the area with a little alcohol. “You mean, like gin?” I’m already Googling Lyme Disease and spouting what I believe to be facts. “It says I have Lyme Disease! It says if you live in the Garden State where it is most prevalent… IT’s JUST A MATTER OF TIME!”
With one hand I pour half of a bottle of hydrogen peroxide over my injury, while with the other, I’m rummaging through the medicine cabinet. What the heck, I prop my leg up near the sink and drown the area with rubbing alcohol. I’m beginning to feel faint from the fumes. “What’s the antidote? What do they administer to tick-bitten victims in old movies? Isn’t it quinine?” My husband’s response, “You may want to seek professional advice” is solicitous, but clearly he’s starting to lose interest. I dial the number of a man well acquainted with the deer tick. Over the years, he braved a trifecta of Garden State Lyme disease. And lived to tell the tale. I’m crestfallen to hear my father’s words echoing those of his son-in-law. He too, is of the opinion that I consult a physician. Returning the phone to its cradle, I follow the man who has saved my life down the stairs, limping, holding on to the railing for dear life. BFA Acting skills die hard.
The next day at work, we are a skeletal crew, preparing for Sunday’s onslaught of chubby fisted children wishing to purchase shirt and tie cookies for their daddies. One of my favorite co-workers is bound for veterinary school in the fall and is always a wealth of information. I casually mention my recent brush with demon tick. “You know, “ Vet-to-be remarks cheerfully, setting down her offset spatula, “If you had only been bitten by the black widow spider on the egg crate the other day, the spider venom would have given you a fighting chance against the Super Lyme Disease that is most likely invading your system.” Super.
Despondent and seeking a change of scenery, I take a stroll with the intention of purchasing a Father’s Day card. Passing the ice cream parlor a few doors down from the bakery, I can’t help but notice the floor-to-ceiling signage in the window. Far from subtle, it’s imploring me to “Get Dad Something Cool for Father’s Day.” My father is a lover of ice cream, yes, but he is undeniably more Classic than Cool.
In the early days of his running career, my father wore plain old sneakers. He ran long before running gear was a fashion statement, attired in non logoed sweat pants and a t-shirt, his only accessory a white terrycloth headband we bought him many years later for Father’s Day. Never would you see him sporting earbuds or listening to music; he was a serious runner, tallying his mileage on a calendar thumbtacked to the inside of the kitchen pantry door.
As a kid, I was perplexed by my father’s hobby. Where on earth was he going? My brothers and sister and I ran all the time; running bases, hide and seek, tag-you’re-It. In the 1960s, the only dads I saw running were clutching leather briefcases and sprinting to catch their commuter trains. For my dad, running was more than exercise; it was a hobby that played out against a backdrop of changing seasons, requiring no one other than yourself.
My dad was, and still is, keen on the great outdoors, particularly the area we refer to as the “Green on the map,” Adirondack State Park. As a youngster, he rode the overnight train from Grand Central Station to Old Forge, New York, spending his summers at sleep-away camp. As a family, we returned to neighboring Osgood Pond (think On Golden Pond) for many years. We accumulated countless hours of board game victories and defeats, sacrificed a number of fishing poles to the lake, and left behind miles of running shoe footprints in the soft, fragrant pine needled trails. Donnelly’s homemade custard (ice cream) provided critical vacation nourishment.
Although we currently call him the man without a hobby, my father considers crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and voracious novel consumption hobby enough. He is a man who passed on to me not only the running gene, but also the perfectly acceptable notions of pie for breakfast, the occasional ice cream for lunch, and most importantly, everything in moderation. (The third continues to be a work in progress.)
As far as getting my father something Cool for Sunday’s holiday, it will undoubtedly be something Classic and something in a pie plate. His favorite pie is generally dictated by the season, although I’ve never known him to turn down an apple pie. Either teamed with a slice of sharp cheddar or capped with vanilla (never chocolate) ice cream, it’s a far better choice than a necktie.
Returning to the sweltering confines of the bakery, my personal physician/Vet-to-be wants to know what kind of pies I’ll be making for the weekend. I can’t say with certainty what I’ll be baking for Father’s Day. With confidence however, I can tell you what I will not;