PUMPING IRONY: Partial Vindication

Three items to report on this glorious autumn morning (blue sky, a wisp of a breeze from the west, 33 degrees), two of which vindicate my urban walkophile-ness: 1. I couldn’t help but notice while I ambled, capless, along my route this morning that the three bicyclists (pedal-philes?) I encountered were bundled up against the… Read more »

Three items to report on this glorious autumn morning (blue sky, a wisp of a breeze from the west, 33 degrees), two of which vindicate my urban walkophile-ness:

1. I couldn’t help but notice while I ambled, capless, along my route this morning that the three bicyclists (pedal-philes?) I encountered were bundled up against the elements, their heads wrapped in helmets and various versions of the traditional balaclava (I almost typed baclava, which would be a different form of headgear). By the time I spied the third cyclist on the bridge, I’d already unzipped my jacket and loosened the scarf around my neck. Nothing against the two-wheeled commute, guys, but the wind you create as you slice through the lower atmosphere just makes you colder (he said, smugly).

2. Walking up the hill on the eastern edge of Minnehaha Park, I was startled by a huge bird that glided through the understory just ahead of me. For a moment, I thought it was an owl, but when it landed on the branch of a tree overlooking the glade about 30 yards away, I could see it looked more like a red-tailed hawk. I got a little closer before it once again took flight. I spotted it again a few minutes later and got a better look. The signature red tail was in evidence, and the sparrows, starlings and grackels in the vicinity were sounding the alarm. I got to within a few yards of the tree it was occupying before it unfurled its massive wings and glided back across the glade, where it could seek its breakfast in peace.

3. My ancient left knee has been only slightly annoying these past couple of days. The walk always seems to loosen it up and my labors on the EDM at the gym allow me to work the joint without doing further damage. But, it seems to be losing some range of motion. When I’m sitting zazen lately (always in the seiza, or kneeling, pose; I can’t even imagine a half-lotus), I’ve had to add a pillow to my little bench so I don’t have to bend my knee too much.

The pain, however, is not in the front of the knee, as you might expect. It doesn’t really feel unstable, like it’s going to buckle. It’s more like a dull ache in the back of the knee. This could be a sign of arthritis, says fitness guru Marc David (but that only happens to old people, right?), or it could be a small tear in the cartilage, or a “baker’s cyst” that fills with fluid when you’ve torn your meniscus or simply when your arthritis is flaring up.

I haven’t done any baking in quite a few years, but the latter diagnosis sounds about right. When I tore the meniscus in my right knee back in 1998, the back of the knee was aching in a similar manner. Back then, of course, I was young and foolish and kept playing basketball until I could no longer walk. Today, I am old and wise (ha ha). I’ll take my glucosamine and exercise with more care — which is just another way of swearing off running.

Back on the EDM tonight after work, a little stretching (maybe), a 20-minute grunting session with the lifting machinery, and a quiet walk home.

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