I always have a headache on Tuesdays.
This would seem odd if I didn’t know exactly what caused it and why the cause was so punctual in my week. In fact, for the diagnosticians among you (Tjilpi?), the cause is in the photo above.
In a past post I posed the possibility of presenting a piece for perusal pertaining to our typical lunches at Roundrock. Our lunches have been wide ranging over the years. Often we would bring sandwiches and chips and lots of water. (How much is a “lot” by the way?) Sometimes the sandwiches were made at home on the early morning of our trip. Other times the sandwiches were bought at the deli section of the grocery story the night before. Often, a sensible meal is supplemented with Oreos or Girl Scout cookies. We might have cheese and crackers as well. Fresh fruit is common. Occasionally, the peanuts we bring for the wild critters will be plundered for part of our repast as well. Once, and perhaps twice, we packed a wide-mouthed thermos with home-made chili, which was a real treat after a winter morning of hiking. We’ve been known to lunch on hummus and pitas.
We’ve eaten our meals sitting inside the truck in the rain. Or sitting on a log. Or sitting in the comfy chairs under the shelter tarp. We’ve eaten our meals off the tailgate of the truck with our chairs pulled up as though it were a proper table. And in recent years, we have brought a proper table: the folding aluminum contraption in the photo above. (And there have been times when we didn’t pack a lunch because we knew we were going to stop at a Pizza Hut in the nearby town on our way home.)
On one trip — I think it was to Fallen Timbers — we had military rations. (A man I worked with at the time was in the National Guard and brought these vacuum-packed, complete meals to the office as a lark.) They are remarkable in their way. You pour a bit of water into a side pouch of the packet and through some magic of chemistry, the whole pouch grows hot, thus heating the spaghetti and meat sauce or beef stroganoff or lasagna or chicken and dumplings within. The food was tasty, I recall, but I’ve priced the civilian version at the local outfitters store, and they are a bit more than I want to spend for a novelty meal.
Our most common lunch, though, is the one pictured above: Caeser salad. Such an unlikely meal in the forest is really no trouble at all. We get a package of the pre-chopped greens at the store the night before (or the morning of sometimes) and simply have to remember to bring plates (which we nearly always do). The package also contains coutons, cheese, and dressing, and we sometimes supplement with tuna. A bit of fruit or a loaf of unsliced dark bread to the side and the meal is quite satisfactory.
I say we pack lots of water, and we do. But other beverages have been served. Occasional beers have been enjoyed, though with a two-hour, high-speed drive to get home, we generally postpone the alcohol. If we have pop drinkers along, we will bring whatever is favored by them. Libby generally has managed to keep a thermos of coffee hot and ready for her lunch. Or she might have one of those bottled coffee concoctions. Max sticks with water. And I, well I always have iced tea.
Much could be said about iced tea. In civilized lands it is not sweetened, and though Roundrock is my personal wilderness, it is a civilized land. (Instant teas need not be mentioned.) I brew a generous pot of iced tea on the morning of our trips to the woods. Some of the pot goes into the jug you see in the photo above, to be held in reserve for lunch when it will be much appreciated. The remainder of the pot is consumed through the morning preparations and on the drive to the Ozarks (which often leads to a particular kind of distress). I brew a special blend of loose tea leaves that includes bits of flower petals to add flavor. I’ve not found another tea that can match the taste, though Libby scorns all teas, saying they taste like an old penny. I’ve never tasted an old penny, but if it really tastes like tea, then I’m surprised I haven’t devoured hundreds of dollars worth of them. But I digress.
I constrain myself to drinking my beloved iced tea to the weekends only. Coincidentally, most of our trips to Roundrock or Fallen Timbers are on the weekend, and if a trip does occasionally fall within the work week, I will break my weekend rule and bring along the blessed draught. Regardless, over the weekend, I drink gallons of the stuff. (Well, maybe not gallons, but a breakfast restaurant we sometimes visit knows to bring an entire pitcher of iced tea to our table when we arrive, and when we leave, the pitcher is empty.)
There is a cost to this indulgence though. Tea, as you may know, is full of anti-oxidents, so it is helping me preserve my body so that I will reach 100 years old — an unbidden revelation I had one day. But so much caffeine in such a short time has a consequence. (Who knows where this is leading? Raise your hand if you do!)
My poor, abused body becomes accustomed to the level of caffeine it receives over the weekend and expresses its great disappointment in not continuing to receive it on Tuesday by giving me massive, staggering caffeine withdrawal headaches. Regular as clockwork and utterly crippling if I don’t medicate with aspirin at the first shimmer of pain in the morning. (I used to take Extra Strength Excedrin to knock down the headaches, and it worked well, but only because it was, itself, full of caffeine. So I was feeding the addiction and simply postponing the headache until the next day. More Excedrin. More postponement. I reached the point where I couldn’t function in the afternoons and had to leave work to find a dark, quiet place to sit motionless. Fortunately, this was the time I made the caffeine/headache connection and so I went cold turkey on the tea for an entire month. The headaches went away, and now I limit myself to weekends only.) I’m lucky that the aspirin does the job.
I’ve discussed my peculiar form of personal destruction with my doctor and he says that the headaches are not a cause for worry as long as my blood pressure isn’t affected. Fortunately, my blood pressure has always been lower than the norm, and it isn’t showing any change from the tea indulgences.
After I win the lottery, I plan to make a visit to each of you. It sure would be nice if you had a tall glass of iced tea waiting for me when I arrived.