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
After my previous post, in which I confessed to holding a grudge against some squirrels, you might be surprised to learn that I spent some time last weekend running a trail race called the Squirrelly Six. All I can say is this: I mentally made it a grey squirrel rather than the despised red squirrel which caused poor Miss Suzy so much anguish. Enough about my childhood issues – let me tell you about a great race!
The Squirrelly Six is one of two races run concurrently each fall up at Thacher Park. The race I ran, as you might guess, is 6 miles of beautiful, challenging trail running. The other race, perhaps one day in my future, is a ½ marathon known as the Hairy Gorilla. The races begin together and then split near the finish for the S6 and I hear that the hardest part of the race comes in the first half. Since I didn’t run the entire course I can’t confirm that, but I can say that there were a couple of intense hills that were kind of ass-kicking. Or, on a more positive note, ass-firming.
Before and after the race, I shot photos for the TU and it was one of the easiest gigs ever. The morning began sunny and the crowd was spirited and fun. The race is extremely well organized and there was a pervasive mood of fun and humor. It seemed to me that this particular group of runners truly knows how to have a good time and I didn’t feel the intense competition that I sometimes find intimidating.
Since my very first time running trails, I have been smitten with the experience. The soft earth underfoot, the smells of leaves and dirt, the lighting…it is very much an activity which captures almost all the senses. Speaking of senses, the aromas from the spread of food in the nearby pavilion were tantalizing! Next year, I think I’ll attempt the Gorilla and reward my efforts with something from the plentiful buffet.
See you again in 2014, S6/HG!
In what feels like a previous lifetime, my girlfriends and I would meet in the mountains outside of New Paltz for our annual hike. There were years before the babies came, and even a couple of years after the oldest of the babies were born, when we would simply amble along a path by the climbers and real hikers. We just wanted to be outside together and the trails of Minnewaska State Park were perfect for us.
Other than a cross-country ski adventure a winter or two ago, it’s been a while since I’ve been there. The holiday weekend, however, threw the perfect opportunity my way – a 20k trail run with one of my childhood friends. Yes, 20k, I said. Which makes it about 3 or 4 miles longer than I’ve ever run. And I mentioned it was a trail run, right? Exactly – awesome!
If you were lucky Columbus Day weekend, you got to spend some time outdoors. If you were incredibly lucky, you were running through the woods of Minnewaska State Park. It was spectacular! The leaves were not quite peak yet, but the colors were still pretty gorgeous. The sky was blue and the air was slightly more damp than crisp. It was absolutely ideal weather to run.
The path we took was an official 20k route and the terrain was very hilly, with mostly soft ground cover. We paused a number of times to take in a view or sip some water as we circled both Minnewaska and Awosting Lakes. It was all about the journey. As we ran, the sky turned to dusk. We were careful as we finished with the last couple of miles of trail all downhill and leaf-covered.
this pretty much sums up how i felt 11 miles in – great!
And I want to do it again.
From Louise Erdich:
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
- The Painted Drum
Go eat some apples – now.
a bonfire with friends
soccer season opener
an event – September Splendor
image: Joe Putrock
there were flowers
and a trip to the Hyde Collection
to see this…
I think I finally caught my breath…
Last week in our (delayed) haste to soak in the last of Summer 2013, two of my boys and I hopped aboard the scenic Saratoga-North Creek Railroad. Despite the late night I had thoroughly enjoyed the previous evening at a concert at SPAC, we left Albany a little after 9:00 a.m. to catch our train, which was scheduled for a 10:00 departure.
We pulled out of the station a little late but, hey, what’s the rush? We had all day to relax in the comfortable double-decker dining car perusing the breakfast menu which featured reasonably priced entrees ranging from $4 for pastry to $9 for the Adirondack omelet, French toast or waffles. My guys ordered and were served fairly quickly. Their plates were hot on arrival, nicely presented and portioned generously. The servers were, without exception, friendly and accommodating.
The train took us through some remote areas with beautiful views of the mountains and Hudson River. The tables invite conversation and the period music playing softly in the background added to the sense of being part of another, more gentle time. As we approached North Creek the sun broke through the clouds and help to remove the chill of the air-conditioned car – I forgot to bring a sweater.
North Creek is a friendly little town with a couple of cute shops and a handful of restaurants. Note: the helpful map distributed at the ticket office is NOT drawn to scale. If you need more clarification on that fact, please see my youngest son. He has probably still not forgotten the trek I led him on, which ultimately ended at our chosen destination for lunch. Which was closed. I’ve been wanting to try barVino forever but, unfortunately (and expectedly) they don’t serve lunch. We ended up at Izzie’s Deli and Market, where I enjoyed my chicken salad, served on a bed of greens as I requested. A few heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, finished the plate.
Dinner is served on the return trip and, again, is fairly priced with entrees ranging between $10 for their Adirondack casserole (described as turkey and assorted root vegetables in a homemade cream sauce finished with a bread crumb, Parmesan and butter topping) and $16 for a 7 oz filet. We didn’t indulge on the way south but the domed car captured and circulated some pretty enticing aromas.
The leisurely pace of the train, coupled with the 3 hour layover, made for a long day, but it was really enjoyable. During the ride south I allowed the train to rock me to sleep and woke up fairly refreshed for the return drive down the Northway. I would definitely take this trip again and am interested in the Ski Train which takes passengers to North Creek where a bus is available to complete the journey to Gore Mountain. A day well spent.
Going down the dune would be more fun if going up the dune wasn’t eventually necessary.
Last week, I had the brilliant idea to get a beach bonfire permit so we could take in the Perseids Meteor showers, beachside. Like last year, we were shut out of our first choice beach, Newcomb Hollow and “settled” for White Crest. If you’re unfamiliar with these Wellfleet ocean beaches, trust me, they’re all beautiful. The only true disadvantage to White Crest is the remarkably steep dune one must navigate from the parking lot down to the beach. And, of course, the return climb up the dune.
The weather was fairly cooperative, but there was a bit of fall in the air. Jeans and sweatshirts were necessary, as were marshmallows, lots of marshmallows. I have to say that watching my brother build and maintain fires in the wood-burning stove of our childhood home, really has paid off. I can build a fire, Jack London. Naturally, we were a bit half-assed about things – I had some paper, some cardboard, a little kindling and a $10 bundle of soft wood and a lighter, but no bucket to fill with water to extinguish the fire. Never mind. We figured it out.
While we didn’t go all out with s’mores fixings this year, I have to say the boys have really mastered the art of toasting marshmallows to a perfectly gorgeous shade of brown. They really were the best toasted marshmallows I ever recall eating, at least that’s my excuse for eating as many of them as I did.
The fires of other sky watchers.
Good friends, delicious marshmallows and a blazing fire ocean side made for a pretty special evening. But the best part of the entire night was when Quinn and I were sharing a chair, in a practically reclined position, staring quietly at the sky. He nestled into me, and I wrapped my arms around him. Our eyes searched the heavens for trails of light and we made a vow to never forget this night.
It’s impossible to predict where in the sky the meteors will ultimately appear, but the light shining in my son’s eyes as he promised to always remember that moment, provided all the illumination for which this mom could ever wish. Magical memories.