Luxurious right now

Chowder, oysters, used books, a daily run, ocean bathing

There’s a brand I follow on social media that has a recurring feature where they interview interesting customers or friends-of-the-company, and one of the questions they always ask is, “What feels luxurious to you right now?” (If you must know, it’s the Big Panty company that just got a write-up in the Times.)

I’ve always liked the question, and generally the answers. It’s kind of like gratitude journaling, but more to my taste. I like that by asking “what feels luxurious” the question seems to emphasize “extremely comfortable, elegant, or enjoyable” over “great expense.”

This past week, luxurious was a TLT (tofu, lettuce, tomato) sandwich that I prepared the day before a long train/bus journey, made with thin slices of marinated tofu I roasted to a crunchy crisp, thick slices of tomatoes and a heaping pile of lettuce—both from our CSA—which I kept separate in a little plastic bag and assembled just before eating, so the toasted bread wouldn’t get soggy. (It looked and tasted a lot like the kind of sandwich my mom might make for me before a flight, an even more luxurious treat.)

Luxurious was a second trip to Vacationland in one calendar year. My annual crock of clam chowder. A half-dozen oysters. Buying even more used books, when I already have “enough.” Watching the Perseids from a hotel balcony one night and from the darkness of a nearby public park the next.

Luxurious was our daily run, along the water, out to a forest preserve, going slow over the roots and up and down the hills. Washing the sweat away in the ocean, front crawl, backstroke, breast stroke, doggy paddle. Too often it feels like I only have time to exercise on weekends or vacations, because workaday life takes precedence on all the other days. It feels lavish (luxurious) to take a half hour or more to run somewhere beautiful every day, or even every other day, on top of a morning yoga practice. Too time-consuming, too indulgent, too selfish. So it was nice and luxurious, for just a few days, to have not much else to worry about or schedule than our next run.

And now that I’m home again it will be luxurious to take a day or two off, to give my legs a much-deserved break.

A post shared by @jessimckenzi

Reading list

How to kill a Spotted Lanternfly, if you want to save and protect New York’s walnuts, hops, apples, blueberries, and stone fruits (Jen Carlson for Gothamist). “One day the pain paid me a visit and never fully left. Like a basement that floods when it rains, or the backroom of a house that becomes infested with lady bugs in late summer, there’s a clockwork to this.” (Christopher Gonzalez on walking). A bemusing article about disappearing hikers in Australia that offers tidbits about a pair of 103-year-old murders, and either a near-mythical person called the Button Man (kinda ominous) or an itinerant research assistant called Buttons (less ominous), with only the most tenuous connection betwixt the two, and not nearly enough meat for those bones (Yan Zhuang for The New York Times).

Finally, I wrote about the small crew of Antarctic “overwinterers” NASA is studying to see how indoor farming could psychologically (and nutritionally) benefit the long-haul space explorers:

Polar night is finally over at Neumayer Station III, a remote research station perched on Antarctica’s Ekstrom Ice Shelf. For almost 64 days, the 10 members of the skeleton winter crew, the overwinterers—a cook, a doctor, and eight engineers and researchers—did not see the sun. For those 63 days, 23 hours, and 18 minutes, perpetual darkness was broken only by brief periods of twilight, when the sun approached but did not rise above the horizon. Average temperatures in June and July fluctuate between 0 and -24 degrees Fahrenheit, and the station is often pounded by winds that can exceed 100 kilometers per hour. A webcam of the station feeds photos to a livestream every 10 minutes, but during snowstorms it may not be possible to see the station at all.

These extreme conditions make the Ekstrom Ice Shelf an ideal setting to test the technology that could one day allow humans to grow food in inhospitable settings like the moon or Mars. Additionally, the extreme isolation of Neumayer Station and its residents make them ideal subjects in a study of how fresh produce could impact the well-being of astronauts during long-haul space travel.

Read the rest here (me for The Counter).