Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter. In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing. Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought. Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight. Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation. Yuck.
Our relationship was purely platonic at the start. It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.” If I had a little extra time, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis. Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.
During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets. I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.
Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion. Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love. The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating. Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor. I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places. Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
I began my day on the floor, next to Cassidy, my tears dripping on the softest fur a dog has ever had. That’s why we picked her, you know. In a litter of 11 beautiful black labs, she was different, wearing a lavender ribbon around her neck with fur that could only be described as fluffy. A dozen years later, her coat remains a marvel of softness.
Cassidy has been the only dog my boys have known. In her younger years, she was my cross-country skiing buddy, joyfully covering miles of the golf course with me each winter. For a number of years, we rented a house on the Cape which welcomed pets and Cassidy was a regular at the nearby pond, diving under the water to retrieve rocks. She has been a wonderful, wonderful pet.
In recent days, she has not been herself. There have been messy episodes which have required copious amounts of Nature’s Miracle to eliminate. Her appetite has been compromised and I scheduled a visit for the vet. My youngest, Q, asked to accompany me to the appointment. I hesitated, not knowing what the diagnosis might be, nor how he would respond to the bad news I anticipated. He earnestly told me this: “I’ve taken some punches, Mom. I’ve had up times and down times. I’ll be ok.” He came with me.
The visit was as expected. It seems that our girl has a tumor in her abdomen, more than likely cancer. She probably is experiencing some internal bleeding. I’m crying now. The vet gave me some medication to help with her bowels. He said to feed her whatever she wants to eat and to take her home any enjoy her. We’ll know when she needs us to let her go.
I made Cassidy turkey risotto this morning. I can’t stop looking at her resting peacefully and wondering how many more mornings I’ll awake to find her sleeping on the stained carpet at the foot of my bed.
No matter how hard you prepare yourself, the punch to the gut of losing a beloved pet always hurts. Even when your child dries your tears and tells you everything is going to be fine.
Full Hunter’s Moon by Raven Wu
October’s Hunter’s Full Moon run with the Lunar Bitches had a lot going on. It had been an entire month since we had all been together and life moves fast. We all have children and full time jobs (+) and relationships to maintain and we are definitely busy.
Our runs are generally an easy combination of conversation and silence, along with a few “watch outs” thrown in as we tread through less than clear paths. Kind of like life, it seems.
I realized on Sunday night that we have some strong common threads, in addition to the running, which serve to connect us. We each have children who have challenges with which they struggle. Our struggle as moms often is to find the “right” balance between helping our kids by helping them and helping them by not helping them. There isn’t a cool app we can use to measure our success as we do our runs. It isn’t easy, but we’re trying to teach our children independence and personal responsibility.
All three of have in the last year or so have had a change in our careers, be it be in our hours, employers or the populations with which we work. There was a limited amount of complaining by each of us when the new positions were initially meted out by the universe, but it seems now that we have unanimously been able to transition to a positive place professionally. We’ve landed on our feet.
During our runs, through fields and on rock strewn dirt roads, there’s always some stumbling. We’ve come to learn and, more importantly, appreciate the obstacles which threaten to trip us up occasionally. How we recover from that which threatens our balance has become an opportunity to exercise our strength.
I’m already looking forward to November’s Frost Moon and run.
You knew it had to eventually happen, right? Our trio of women, bold enough to run in the dark by the light of the full moon,* have morphed into an exclusive little running club. I’d like to officially present the Lunar B*tches Running Club! A few facts about our group:
- Frequency of meetings: monthly.
- Distance: 5-7 miles.
- Pace: varied depending upon conversation and hills, usually ~5.5 – 6.0 mph
- Benefits: personal sanity, grownup interactions, strong legs and tight butts.
- Qualifications: see above
Last night we did about 6.5 miles at a fairly consistent pace. We spent some time at Capital Hills which, aside from real-deal hills, also has the convenience of water stations (amazingly cold water stations) and a bathroom for a midway pit stop. The fireflies and soft rain added a bit of a magical touch to the run and we were three very satisfied mommies when we wrapped up our evening.
Already looking forward to August…
*we didn’t actually see the moon last night, but headlamps provide illumination in a pinch.
I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with one of my boys and I declared some behavior of his to be rather odd. Not in an overly critical fashion, it was merely an observation or impression. He accepted my remark with a laugh and then countered with “You like to run at night. That’s weird.” Guilty, without even an attempt to plead it down.
I’ve got a couple of women with whom I’m always happy to run. We have a similar pace and an unspoken comfort level with whether to talk or not, to speed up or back off. It’s awesome to be able share races and rambles with my friends and, as often as possible, we like to get together for a special Full Moon Run. Last night was our night and it was absolutely epic.
The day had been hot with increasing humidity. When we got out it was close to 9pm and the moon was playing coy. The solstice had made the evening feel particularly leisurely, and we headed out at an easy pace. Our planned route took us down the fabled yellowbrick road and through the Normanskill meadows. We were greeted by flickering fireflies and a delicious dampness in the air.
The uphills quickly out measured the downhills and we worked really hard. I know I’m not alone in admitting the amount of effort, a literal pain in the ass, it took to climb the back 9. At 2 miles, we took a brief break to take advantage of the water station on the golf course and then continued towards the club house and New Scotland Ave.
My intention had originally been to hang a right on Whitehall Rd and head back to my place, however as we approached the intersection, we all agreed it was too soon to head home. We continued on New Scotland and did the long “big girl” loop back to Academy, adding another couple of miles to the run.
Ultimately, we did nearly 7 blissful miles. We cooled down on my stoop, with beers, under the light of the silvery moon. It was, without a doubt, when one of my favorite runs ever – comfortable in more ways than I could explain, even to myself. Perfect – something I don’t say (or even attempt to achieve) very often. Who wants in for next month?
* a nod to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers @SPAC, obviously.
Despite the fact that the conditions were dangerously icy yesterday and I fell multiple times, jamming my thumb really hard once and landing on my ass hard enough to create a bruise that I almost felt compelled to name, I absolutely LOVE cross-country skiing. If you haven’t given it a try because you mistakenly believe it to be for old, slow people, you, my friend, are sadly mistaken. We’re at the point where we need a new snowfall to get the conditions back to where they had been for the past couple of weeks, but my own skis are in my car for the duration. There is no better time to be had than tooling around
Albany Muni Capital Hills with a couple of friends and a flask filled with homemade limoncello. That is upstate winter living at its finest!
View from a lower trail
Snow goddesses abound!
Spectacular sunsets, too!
Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
Today, without a doubt, was the best cross-country skiing I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in the past 2 winters. The company, the conditions, the lighting, it was all perfect. The only thing that ever so slightly marred the afternoon was an exchange we observed between a couple as we headed up a hill following our loop through the back nine. We decided to climb one of the steeper hills rather than remain on the slightly groomed path that skirted around the golf course. As we duck walked up the hill, we watched a mom climbing up the hill with two sleds in tow, one of which had a cute passenger of about 3 years-old. As she steadily made her way up the hill, a man, comfortably ensconced at the top of the hill, yelled down to her. Words of encouragement, you might assume. Or, perhaps, an offer of assistance, right? No, it wasn’t either of those things he was conveying. What he said, repeatedly, was “You can’t do that” followed by “You know you can’t do that, don’t you?” I honestly don’t know if it is a function of my age or my personality, but I was immediately pissed. How dare he tell her what she was and was not capable of doing? Was she somehow internalizing his lack of confidence in her? How were those boys she was shepherding up the hill processing the man’s skepticism in her ability to help them to reach the top? I stared daggers at the guy as my friend and I not-so-quietly talked about what an ass he was. Screw him.