Saying thank you for timing


I have such high hopes for my Sunday runs; specifically, at what hour I’ll actually begin. In my dreams, I start early and make it back home in plenty of time to at least stand a chance of arriving to church before my sister Susan does. Which for us, admittedly, isn’t when the announcements are read. It’s somewhere after the-Lord-be-with-you-and-also-with-you‘ing ends and the sermon begins.

What has been known to happen though, is that on some days I am poised to finish my run to accomplish that. Then I think, “Well, I’m making such good time, I bet I can get another half-mile (or mile) in.” So I end up being late, slipping into the chapel as the first words of the sermon are spoken.

Today, I started my run almost 15 minutes earlier than usual. I thought, “This is it! I’m going to make it!” So I happily ran, listening to my This American Life podcast and then NPR Sunday. About two miles from home, the rain started.

This is good, I thought. I’m not far from the house. I’ve run almost as far as I’d planned. The rain is not torrential. Water dripped steadily from the sky for a bit, and then the rain became more steady. I kept going (what else could i do?!), thankful I was close to the end of my run and that these were only showers: No thunder. No lightning.

Not until I was five blocks from home did a sudden bright flash fill the sky and split a cloud. A few houses later, a jolt of thunder jostled me out of my zone. I was almost home, almost home.

I shucked my shoes outside the door and went inside just as the sky dropped. I confess I didn’t go to church, which is a bit ironic considering one of the few times I could have been on time, the lousy weather probably would have made me late anyway.

So for starting my run earlier than usual, for storms that held off until I was safely at home, for timing that may be fate or luck or divine intervention, The Grateful Runner says thank you.







Saying thank you for secrets of the sky

Sky Jan 26 14

For the first time in quite a few days, I wore no jacket when I ran, capris instead of tights, and I almost took off my gloves after a few miles. Though I donned a denim jacket to wear to church (yes, my church attire is about as fancy as most of my other outfits), by the time I walked out of the chapel, I didn’t need it.

I stopped at Starbucks, then sat on my patio drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. After yoga a few hours later, I was driving home and could hardly keep from staring at the sky. Every few hundred yards, it seemed to change, becoming just a bit more breathtaking.

As I may have mentioned once or twice or 497 times, I am a weather watcher. So I know that less than 12 hours from now, today’s and Saturday’s warm temperatures will seem like a sweet spring dream.

This is the kind of thought that makes me harken back to pioneer days, when there was no Traffic & Weather Together on the 8s, no Weather Channel, no

The Cartwrights and Rowdy Yates and those bonnet-clad women on wagon trains probably savored such warm temps thinking, “Ah, spring is here” — only to be awoken by blustery winds that all but knocked over the cattle they were herding and blew their corn pone several counties away.

My father, God bless him, had a fascination with and an inherent knowledge of clouds, of storms, of sunshine. Among his many catchphrases was this one: “Ah, honey,” he’d say, “the weather is always changing.”

We can look at the sky — at ourselves; at our lives — and see what we think will stay the same for a long time, perhaps even forever. But everything is always changing, at times in ways we’d choose; at others, leaving us a bit perplexed.

Dad for his part, could probably have looked at today’s sky, let out a big sigh of gratitude and amazement and, without even seeing the five-day forecast, remind me to enjoy today’s warmth now. I however, cannot; thus my relying on — well, you know — those chief meteorologist types, especially since my dad is no longer here to offer his observations.

So for looking to the sky, and for the secrets and the magic it holds, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for counting on the future

In a few months, the sunflowers on Mom's windowsill will be tall as she is

In a few months, the sunflowers on Mom’s windowsill will be tall as she is

I wore tights on my run today, because the morning dawned pretty briskly. But the sun was rising, making promises it would heat the air come afternoon…which it did. So I decided, after reading the announcement in our church newspaper, to call my mom and see if she wanted to help plant a community garden.

My mother is an avid gardener whose thumb is as green as — oh, whatever that winter grass is that looks like the color of a crayon. Were I to tell you the street on which she lives and say, “It’s the apartment with the flowers,” you’d find it more easily than if I had given you the street number.

I knew Mom would be working in the yard today, so I wasn’t surprised she didn’t answer the phone. The volunteer project at church started at 1 p.m. I finally reached her about 12:20.

At first, she hesitated, saying she’d worked all morning in her yard and didn’t know if she was in the mood to go plant some more. I said that was fine; whatever she wanted to do. Besides, I said, I’m almost positive this will be an ongoing project.

“Oh, let’s go,” she said.

We got to the garden site around 1:30, signed in, and were handed brand-new trowels, gloves and onion plants. The soil was really nice and sandy, so we could make inch-deep lines into which we put the onions and later, when we ran out of those, carrot seeds.

Mom and I had it easy, quite honestly. At the other end of the raised bed where we worked, other volunteers were shoveling mounds of dirt into wheelbarrows and then carting the loads to other areas. But Mom and I we could sit, or stand if we so choose, with hardly having to move any body part but our arms and wrists.

Eventually, the area where we worked will be beautiful, with raised beds for vegetables and shrubs lining the property. Right now, there’s a chain-link fence, weeds everywhere, a few portable storage units and pieces of glass here and there.

But Mom could see past all the ugly, past the crummy buildings across the street and the questionable people wandering along the sidewalks. Instead, she marveled at how this will look when it’s finished, and how she looks forward to watching the area come together.

We stayed for maybe an hour. I drove her home, to the apartment with pansies in containers and sunflowers growing in pots on her upstairs windowsill. As she walked to her front door, she stopped to admire, as she always does, the skinny trunks and seemingly dead branches — seeing not the dormancy, but the tiny, tiny buds that signify life.

So for life; for sunshine; for the promise of flowers and onions where right now there’s not much more than dirt…and of course, for her sweet mother’s optimism, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for runs that could go on forever

When a run can go on forever, we never want it to end.

When a run can go on forever, we never want it to end.

Good heavens; did you run or walk or do anything outside today? Glorious, absolutely glorious.

Sunday’s my long run day, so I had a distance in mind when my alarm went off and my feet hit the floor. I wore capris (hooray!), a long-sleeved shirt, Mizuno Warmalite Headband (which I knew I looked weird in, but oh well), and my trusty Saucony Cohesions.

I left the house at 6:20 a.m., while stars still lingered and the sun waited in the wings. I circled my block a time or two, then the next one, and did an elongated Figure 8 course over a few more. I don’t have a particular route for any certain distance; I just go where my shoes and my mood take me.

The sun started to rise and the stars to disappear. I ran up and down a hill I hadn’t been on in awhile, around a certain park a time or two. I saw a trio playing tennis; watched a woman in a white robe carry a mug of coffee onto her side patio and sit down with the newspaper (something which, as someone who writes for that fine publication, I was especially grateful to see).

It was one of those mornings, one of those runs, that I wanted to go forever. They’re not all like that, of course; I never know when I step out the door what course they’ll take any more than I know the direction I’ll head. So when I’m lucky enough to have one like this, I vow to remember it when my feet are a little more faltering. Meanwhile, as I watch and listen to the world wake up, I want to cling to these moments, to these feelings, as long as I possibly can.

Alas though, long-run day is, as I’ve mentioned, Sunday, a day that happens to coincide with church. As I sat in the chapel service (having arrived only 10 minutes late instead of my sometimes-15), I saw a red and blue stripe on a column in front of me — a reflection of the sun streaming through a stained-glass window.

It reminded me all over again about the lure, about the power, about the promise of forever. And for that, and for runs that we don’t want to ever end, The Grateful Runner says thank you.