Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Mary Hills and Bird Dogs

The dogs and I have been enjoying a local hike lately. It is a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail, located about 20 minutes from my house in San Francisquito Canyon. Usually we hike UP for about an hour and then come back. It is a steady climb but not too strenuous.

Today I decided to hike a bit further up the trail, since we had an earlier start. The dogs were all for it - especially since the area is covered with dove and quail - who love to tease and lead the dogs on - then fly away with much noise and disturbance. This does not dissuade the dogs, who would have NO idea what to do with a quail if they cornered one.

Now, the part of the trail that is an hour UP has what looks like a small hill. I am going to tell you that looks are deceiving. This particular hill is what I would call an OH MY GOD hill. But hikes are full of these hills and getting over them makes you feel very virtuous. Especially if you don't wheeze, moan, or land on your knees at any point during the ascent. Had I known what was BEYOND this hill, however, I just might have taken the adjacent off-road vehicle road instead. But NO. I stuck to the trail, just like a dedicated and responsible PCT hiker.

Cresting this trail is very invigorating because it is flat - for about 50 paces. Then there is another hill. This one is rutted and sandy and full of rocks. It is definitely an OH MY GOD Hill. Getting to the top, while huffing and puffing in a decidedly UNfeminine way, is a sure-fire way to give yourself a heart attack.

(And what is it with that old saying about men perspiring but women only "glistening?" It's running down my NOSE for heaven's sake!)

But guess what you see when you get to the top of this hill? YES! Another hill!

Friends, these are the HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD HILLS because once you see the third hill and begin ascension, you realize that you are GOING TO DIE. It will be an ignoble and lonely death - witnessed by three very dusty and slobbery weinie dogs who will immediately root around in the back pack for water and used kleenex - once you're dead.

It is at this point, as certain death looms and exploded lung will scatter along the trail, the dogs see more BIRDS. Despite the wheezing, hacking, huffing, puffing, and muscle-screaming climb, off they RUN at full dachshund speed to CATCH THE BIRDS. When they dejectedly return a few minutes later, completely chagrined and utterly birdless, I decide to go back before we lose the light.

EVERY single bird, rabbit, lizard, and potential bird, rabbit, and lizard is fair game. These short dogs do not understand the limits of human endurance and OFF THEY GO, careening down the HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD Hills with little to no regard for my safety, comfort, or well-being. The fact that I have the car keys means NOTHING. There are BIRDS!

This weekend I plan to return and see what is beyond the three hills. It is my fervent hope that they aren't quadruplets. But with my luck, it will be a mountain - home to a pack of wild turkeys.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bug Parts and Red Dye

Just why, exactly, are RED things so appealing? Would we feel the same way about something that is bright green? Or ebony black? Or deep purple? How about bright yellow? If they remove the red dye, the taste remains "red" but the color does not. Why does the red make it more appealing?

And why, exactly do we hate to eat bugs anyway? We eat cow muscle, chicken parts, and soda pop that POPS because we add an ingredient that we breathe OUT on a regular basis. We eat fish eggs and grind all kinds of ingredients together to create fatty delicacies like corn chips, jolly ranchers, and fake-butter popcorn. We actually eat PORK RINDS which, in essence, is the skin of a pig, deep fried - but we turn our collective noses up at BUG PARTS?

It doesn't make sense.

Think about it: Morgan Spurlock got horribly SICK after eating McDonald's food for a month. Ground up cow muscle with iceberg lettuce, wilted tomatoes and some gosh-awful sauce - everyday! Plus, deep-fried remnants of what were once potatoes and gallons of coca cola, which is loaded with refined sugar. But bug parts? We turn out noses up at bug parts?

See the commercial with the overweight guy going around the world sampling ingredients for Kashii - the fencepost cereal? He turns his nose up at grasshoppers on a stick, but digs his hand into some kind of grain that looks like mashed up wheat stalks. The grasshoppers are obviously cooked - probably slow-roasted over some open fire somewhere in the third world. They look crunchy don't they? But this guy, who looks like he could USE a steady diet of health food, won't touch them. The lady offering them? She looks healthier than HE does.

Something is topsy-turvy here.