A Day for Contemplation

Today Western Christians mark Good Friday.

(Okay, enough with the jokes that all Fridays are good because you get the weekend off.)

Like millions of my fellow Christians I will spend of portion of this day thinking of events and emotions larger than the sum of my experience.

A God too big and bold to stay in any mental box devised by man. An Eternal being. Forever is too huge for my mind to conquer. A Deity that made promises and kept them – every one!

Take a little time today. Think of spiritual things. The Christian God or another belief. What role does it play in your life? Has He awed you? Comforted you? Inspired you to conquer fear and do good things?


Freezing the Wind

Glance at plants or flags on any breezy day and you see the effects of wind. It’s a fleeting thing. The dance of tree limbs before a storm can be fascinating and hold my attention for long moments. Bend. Relax. Bend again. Will they break? Or will they survive this encounter with a wall of air moving at high speed.

Have you stood and watched a flapping flag? Perhaps in a breeze on Memorial Day or another holiday. Or a continuous display in front of a public building? If you stop and listen you can hear the fabric talk back to the air in ripples and snaps.

An artist much more talented than my dreams thought about wind. And with the aid of modern technology he modeled the effect and froze it in time. I’m not sure if this display is still at the college campus. But it added interest to our walk among the classroom buildings.

Freezing the Wind
Freezing the Wind

Rain Delay

Saturdays in March include an early morning walk with the run/walk group.

Please. Not too early. I skimmed the email. Took note of the where. Missed the when. I was still snug in my bed when a few brave souls gathered and began to run the trail. The rain started with the runners, light at first but enough to dampen them well by the end of the run.

Later, at the time of previous runs, I drove in the rain to the meeting place. I waited in rain of varying intensity for others from our group. Traffic on the trail was light. As I waited I remembered a time on vacation when my companions and I became as soaked as sponges.

It was my first visit to Niagara Falls. The autumn day was cold, raw, and misty when we left the house. By the time we arrived at the falls the mist turned to rain. One member brought umbrellas. They were useless in the wind. We viewed the falls. The mist came up from the bottom. The rain descended from the sky. The wind blew moisture into all the spaces between. I clicked photos. We went to different areas of the viewing platforms.

By the time we walked into the souvenir shop our sneakers squeaked.



Amateur Curves

My home is filled with items purchased on trips. Like many Americans, a vacation is not complete without bringing home an object to help one remember the good times, new experience, or awesome sight.

Photos top the list. And always a few postcards – they are taken under the best of conditions with great cameras and patience. Food is popular, especially when I’m visiting for the second, third, or more time.

And like many people I collect items. In my case they fall into coffee mugs, shot glasses, and refrigerator magnets. Some of that depends on suitcase space.

But I don’t limit myself. I’ve found (and spent money at) delightful book stores both east and west. And one year I went looking for candles of a specific color to go with the new colors I’d painted my living room.

The candles were displayed for a time. Then they got put away – making way for Christmas décor – pulled out and stashed away again. Recently I pulled them out again, intending to set them in a new place.

Hot summers and electric heaters have aged them. Gracefully?

You decide if these amateur curves are worthy of proud display.

Bending with age
Bending with age

Getting Variety

Training for a fitness event could get boring.  Run every day. Walk every day. Over and over — one foot in front of the other.

Lucky me signed up for this adventure with a group. And the designated and natural leaders kept an eye out for variation.

Yes, we meet every Saturday morning at the same time. Not always in the same place. Not always the same length of trail. Or surroundings to view as we move.

Maybe I’ve limited my own private walks too much. I do loops out from my house. I walk at the mall in bad weather. I’ve sampled a park and a nature center.

This group has stretched me. We walked at a high school track. Enjoyed a trail on an old railroad bed. Endured a park with steep hills and a trail that skirts the practice and competition obstacles for equestrian events.  Shivered through the first lap of a short trail on a cold March morning.

Are we ready? I think I need to go shoe shopping. Give me a couple weeks to get new footwear and old feet used to each other.


Stuck Overnight

On a fine March morning I went for an early walk.

What’s that? There — at the basketball hoop.

Look at the evidence out tiny park is used. By more than basketball players. Can you picture the scene?

One or two children tossing their ball. It goes high. Perfect shot.

Well — with one slight problem.

This is what happens when your playball – just a little larger than a regulation basketball – goes astray on that last shot before you’re called in for the night.

Tight Fit
Tight Fit

The scene didn’t stay long in the daylight.  My attention was on other things at the moment the ball was retrieved. I’m trying to picture it – broomstick from below? Basketball from above? I hope the shooter remembers this one-in-a-thousand shot.



Follow the Footsteps

The snowy portion of winter arrived late in St. Louis this year.

No magic Christmas snow. Or super hazard road conditions on New Year’s. We had cold days in January and early February. And then, in time to remind us this is winter in the American Midwest, two storms arrived a few days apart. We got the edges. Ask the residents of Kansas if you want to know how the centers of the storms felt.

Light snow. Flurries. White flakes dissolving on contact with black pavement. Refreezing and formation of black ice during the night.

Runners (and walkers) should be a hardy group. So on the appointed Saturday morning our dwindling number met in the parking lot of a local park. The plan was to walk/run a path near the perimeter multiple times.

Step, step, step I followed the runner and the runner/walker at my steady walking pace. Which fork of the path should I take? Follow the footsteps in the dusting of snow on the trail. Today I’ll follow. Let the runner lead.


Hazard of First

Do you sit in the front row? Jostle to be first in line?

Sometimes you get a great view from the front. Or the best selection of fruits and vegetables if first in line when the Farmer’s Market opens.

First also has some danger. The situation is more uncertain. What if the map is wrong? Or doesn’t exist. Do I have the right information?

Hey! You in the back! Slow down! I’m leading this without any firsthand reports.

Plants don’t use road maps or verbal reports. They do use soil temperature, length of daylight, and other prompts you’ll find discussed in botany texts.

One purple crocus in my garden won the competition for first this year. I noticed the brave purple bloom on Wednesday.

Thursday stuff happened – about four inches of “stuff”.

Brrrr. Shiver. Shiver.
Brrrr. Shiver. Shiver.



One Step at a Time

The hardest part of mornings is getting out of bed.

The most difficult part of writing a book is sitting down and putting those first words on paper (or computer screen).

The first step is the most fearful.

This blogger did it again. In a moment of optimism and curiosity she signed up with a group to participate in a run. Actually she signed up for a 5K run/walk. And she intends to walk – I try not to cross the line between optimism and foolishness.

Let’s present the facts. The distance of 5 Kilometers is equal to 3.1 miles. Average walking speed is 3 miles per hour. Therefore: I need to be able to walk for one hour without stopping for a coffee break (or water, or socializing).

This will require a change in habits. For the last several years I’ve taken lots of walks around my neighborhood. Those walks of fifteen or twenty minutes refreshed my body, mind, and soul. An occasional longer walk during fine weather prompted plot twists or aided the search for the right phrase in my writing.

An hour! No breaks!

I took a deep breath. Exchanged a hopeful word with another novice to this sport, and took the first step on the trail.

Hiking/biking trail for practice.
Hiking/biking trail for practice.