Saturday, February 27, 2010
It is hard to explain how it felt to be outside today. Every year, there seems to be that one distinctive day of change, and it does not matter whether you live in the North, South, East or West. The air takes on a different aroma, the wind shifts a little bit. It is a bit chillier, a bit cloudier. You wish you had worn that extra layer, but it is too late to go inside to get that coat or sweater. So you just sit and think. You hate the idea of going into that building to endure fifty-some minutes of lecture, and you think rather about staying outside and watching mother nature do her Autumn work. A cloud moves in front of the sun, the wind picks up, making the chill even more so. The peaks to the north have newly-fallen snow, and the sun melts what it can. Nothing really melts on the back of the peaks, for they do not see that much sun. Clouds that are dark but non-threatening move in during the late afternoon. Against the sunset, they give off a dark grey, almost black color, as they move harmlessly over campus and off to the east. Today, it seems as if a line has been crossed. It is the line that divides the mildness of the Indian Summer to the chilliness of Autumn, and there is no turning back.
The “shuffle” setting on my ipod is fascinating. I was just starting up a ten-mile run and the first song is none other than “Laughing” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. It's not a bad tune. I went with it.
“I thought,. . .I met a man. . .who said,. . .he knew a man. . .who knew. . .what was goin’ on” is how it begins, in a solemn tone not befitting of such an activity as running. I think more along the lines of, oh, sitting around a camp fire or painting a barn with a watercolor brush as criteria for a good CSN tune.
Tune in next week as I tune into another song on my shuffle.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Memories. Good ones, dull ones, funny ones, exciting ones. This will be a funny one. It occurred when you were an age of which I am not certain and when I was ten. On a late fall evening in the comforts of a certain Clearfield, PA Best Western, two cats were under the influence. What influence, you ask? Could it be owner’s love? Chopped alewife in a saucer? Catnip? For Elferd and Maimie, it was none of the above. Those cats had something in their system that made them spiral from nuts to clumsy to just plain stupid. We Norths, tired from the long haul and needing rest, had front row seats for the upcoming show and had no choice in the matter.
ACT I: The Wandering. The cats wandered every square inch of that motel room, a wandering that was slow and sluggish. Bumping into a wall, they would double back and bump into another wall. It was almost as if they were wandering to the Nutcracker tune of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, but for the sake of the situation I’ll change it to “Dance of the Stupor- Punked Felines.”
ACT II: The Yowles. It was not until after we went to bed that the noise began. (Bed…what were we thinking?) At first, we kids were a bit startled, for it sounded as if we were being haunted by two deceased cat-souls.
Realizing what the noise was and in all frankness amused by it, we just tried to ignore it. Two hours passed and oh, how we longed for sleep. But it would not have anything to do with us. Thus we continued our lying and looking at the motel ceiling.
ACT III: “Mrooowwwwwer.” “Myowwwellll” “MeyoWoWoW” There was now yodeling, yodeling under the influence of whatever the vet injected them with. On top of this they were still wandering and bumping into things. Zeke, our dog at the time, was very unlucky. His peace was shattered from two cats bumping into and climbing over his frail body. Never did he have to experience this in his twelve years living with us. Thoroughly pissed-off, Zeke snapped at the cats whenever he got the chance. All of this happened under a luminous glow of the in-shining moon.
You may be wondering when the vomiting began. Well, I was getting to that. It all started ‘round one o’clock. By now Sarah, Mom, Dad, Zeke and me had abandoned all hope of sleep and were just waiting for whatever else was in store. Lying in our beds, we noticed that the yowling ceased. Yay!!! Could this mean that the show was over? Could it be? Sleep began to overcome us. Zeke began to snore quietly. The cats were somewhere else, not anywhere to be heard. All was calm on the Best Western front until we began to hear the upchucking. And you know what that sounds like, you cat owners. I needn’t put it down on paper. Let’s just say that whatever corner of the house you’re in, your head will turn to the sound and you will refuse to accept the reality of what is going down. Indeed the four of us, at that moment in the wee hours of the morning, were refusing to accept the reality. Of course, everything else started back up too, the noises and all that. So now the cats have one heck of a multitasking system going on- wandering, yowling, yodeling, and vomiting.
ACT IV: If you are not already grossed out and making a conscious choice to read on, I may as well address the beds. Two beds were in the hotel room- Sarah and Mom in one, Dad and I in the other. Elferd and Maimie decided to incorporate the beds into their show, and that they did. Only in this case they couldn’t really stay ON the beds, they would hop up, walk all over us and fall off the side. Sometimes they got it in their heads to try to leap from one bed to the other (I guess they thought they had it together enough to do so). The funny thing is, the influence they were under disallowed them from completing their leaps and they would land on the floor with a thud. There were no give-ups, for the strong will of the drugged felines kept them persistent straight on till morning.
And that’s the story of the stupor-punked felines. Truth is, we had to have them put under some kind of drug to keep them lax during our move from Connecticut to Ohio. Ironically, they were anything but relaxed.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Light flakes were falling. I could see the gentle sway of the trees with the stiff breeze. The sun was just kind of there behind a thin layer of grey clouds. Moisture was coalescing all over my cheap apartment window, on the inside. The morning was a product of the solstice.
My mind told me that running might be a bad idea today, but my heart told me otherwise. I followed my heart, thinking oh, I’ll be ok.- it’s me, after all. And refusing to accept the biting cold, refusing to accept the fact that Pikes Peak simply could not be seen, I fired up the car and drove to Manitou.
There wasn’t as big a turn out in Memorial Park. Roughly, I’d say there was about 50 of us showing up that morning. The leader got things underway but without the usual zest in his voice that I have grown accustomed to hearing. Usually, the opening spiel goes something like this: “GOOD MORNING RUNNERS! TODAY WE ARE GOING TO RUN UTE PASS!! LET”S GOOOOO!” But on this particular morning it kind of went like this. “Mornin. Today we are going to run up Barr Trail. . .mmhmm let’s get her done mmm” So, we thinking him as being in sort of a Carl Childers persona from the movie Sling Blade, got going.
It was a minute in. I could feel something happening to my fingers. They hurt. They hurt from the air. Sometimes it’s so cold that you can guess a number for the temperature and just feel how right you are. I moved my arms fast, almost out of sync with my feet, to get the blood circulating again. It worked. Warmth gave me power. I picked up the tempo a little and stayed with the front of the pack. The regulars were there, those who were training for marathons or triathalons, and today they amounted to three including myself. I felt good, confident, even when Carl Childers suddenly blew past me. Where did he come from? I didn’t hear him. I can usually hear feet coming up into my realm. Despite how bizarre it was, the leader had to live up to his leadership. And the fact of me being a newbie wasn’t enough for me to be unaware that he always did.
The up and up went. Not good, not bad, it just went. And it was pretty damn cold. The ice on the trail was in a very unaccommodating mood. I still hadn’t mikitaed the screws into my shoe bottoms, probably due to my New England stubbornness, and I pay a little bit of that price with every Incline Club experience. I could also feel my physical “red flags,” as I call them. They usually start with the pain in my left heal. The pain is not enough to render me powerless, though, and it goes away after a while. Today it did not go away. I still kept going.
I made it up to the top of Rocky Mountain, where the terrain becomes generously flatter for a bit. With the flatness comes less hard running, and with less hard running comes less sweating, and with the less sweating there came more cold to my body. This time it wasn’t only in my extremities, but around my face. The sudden burst of cold also gave my nose an excuse to lose complete control of my internal fluids. Mind you, my nose wasn’t the only one to suffer this misfortune. I could hear, as if they were alive themselves, the noses of other runners completing their own unpleasant tasks. The sounds of the multiple nose blowings and snot rockets outweighed the melodic tweets of the finches. Talk about “leave no trace.”
Rarely do I listen to the voices of reason when on a run. Frequently they have told me, You are going too far today, turn around. or You do not have enough energy for this. and I have shooed them away like flies. Today my attention was different. The grayness of the ski, the unfeeling in my fingers, the coldness on my face, my nose and its insistence of bringing me into my own personal hell, caused me to do a turn around. Today was not my day to make the ascent to Barr Camp.
Surprisingly, the run down turned the tide. Yes it was slippery, yes I was unbelievably cold, but having fun leaping the rocks and defying gravity. This euphoria steered me out of my mood of quitting and into a mood of satisfaction. I ran just far enough this morning.