Tag Archives: beauty

Tree hugging

Image: treehuggerfilms.com

Image: treehuggerfilms.com

I was bold this evening. For a few minutes, at least. I went for a run, a short one, and sported only a skort and a modest running bra. This is not my usual attire, especially not during daylight hours, and I vacillated in a somewhat schizophrenic fashion between thinking I was fit and believing that I was fat. You see, exercising my body and brain simultaneously is yet another way I often multitask.

About 3 minutes into my run, I became self conscious and a bit uncomfortable. I felt exposed, and my skort with the stretched out elastic waistband was sliding down without a shirt to which to safety pin it. I ran past a wooded area and, as is my way, I looked to the side for my reflection, which I didn’t see. Or did I?

To my right, rather than the reflective glass of car and household windows I typically see on my city runs, I saw an undeveloped piece of land covered in trees. They were mostly scrub oaks, an unfortunate name for trees which bear such shiny green leaves from their richly textured branches. My mind took in the beauty of each individual tree and I considered how being a tree wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The strength they show in adverse conditions, the glorious splendor with which they salute the pending arrival of winter, the tiptoe and whisper of their spring greeting. There are far worse things to be in the world.

If I had interrupted my run to examine each and every tree, I know I would not have found any two to be identical. They were unique in their beauty, individual. I was struck by a thought – isn’t the source of our own beauty the same? Isn’t it our own unique spark essence fire that causes us to shine in a way that is pleasing? Aren’t the most attractive people those who radiate something special and distinctive beyond the size of their waist or the shine of their hair? Why is this simple truth so difficult to embrace?

Trees probably don’t waste time wishing they were taller, longer limbed or of a different girth. Their beauty is without question, their position within the forest unchallenged by rigid boundaries or demands to alter their appearance. The next time I seek my reflection during a run, I hope I see a tree.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, musings, Observations, running

Friendship Garden

There was a time when I felt overwhelmed by the needs of my children.  The attention they demanded caused me to abandon my interest in taking care of any other living things, specifically my plants.  I believe I have one houseplant which survived those toddler years.  It is a shadow of its former self, but seems determined to remain a member of the household.

As the boys became more independent and able to entertain themselves a bit better, I started acquiring plants again.  There was a rubber tree I inherited after a friend’s move, a fern or two, a couple of plants my brother no longer wanted. My house once again had bright spots of greenery.  It was time to direct my attention elsewhere…

My front yard is the size of a postage stamp.  When I moved in 18 years ago, there were a couple of rose bushes and some grass. Simple.  And boring.  Over the years , friends have shared their perennials with me, beginning with Sharon and her purple cone flowers.  I remember her bringing over clumps of flowers and my not getting them into the ground for days.  I was skeptical that they would survive my neglect, but they have thrived in the sunniness of my front yard.

A few years later, the cone flowers were joined by Black-eyed Susans.  I love the sturdy cheeriness of these and usually cut some to have in the house.  I like to put them in an old glass pitcher with the baby’s breath my brother gave me a few years back.  The baby’s breath fills in an area of my garden directly in front of the red bee balm and purple balloon flowers which my friend Donna gave to me.  It’s one of my favorite little spots this time of the year when everything looks so lush.

There are shasta daisies and a variety of ever multiplying lilies, also.  The grass is long gone and mulch and rocks fill in the garden in the few bare areas which remain.  My iris, given to me by both my brother and my friend, Lisa, have long since bloomed, but I’ll need to thin those out come fall because they have taken off.  They’re surrounded in their home in my parking strip by colorful snapdragons.  I don’t recall ever planting snapdragons, but an elderly neighbor always had them in her front garden and I suspect that is where mine originated. I think she’d be happy to know that she left behind some life on our block.

Come fall, I also plan to thin out the geraniums I was given by a work friend. They would take over if I didn’t keep my eye on them! The peony, which was originally in my shady backyard, has settled into its sunny home and thanked me for its new digs by bestowing bloom upon bloom.  I’ll be splitting that this fall, as well.  Right now the peony is home to a cat which Jeter is constantly trying to flush out. Each time he brushes past the star-gazer lilies he marks himself with pollen.  Guess that makes him a flower, too, almost.

The biggest surprise in the garden this summer are the sunflowers.  After years of planting seeds with limited success, this year I left the work to the birds.  They have thanked me for my mostly constant feedings by spreading sunflowers throughout my garden.  In return, when they’re done blooming I will harvest the seeds and give them back to the birds.  Without the birds and my generous friends, my garden, and my life, would be a far less beautiful existence.

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Filed under beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Summer

My love affair with Winter

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 timphoto 2(4)e, 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.
photo 1(4)
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.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Another squirrel story!

S6After 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!

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Filed under Events, Exercise, friends, Local, running, SEEN, upstate New York

Minnewaska must mean “beautiful” in Native American

lake

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!

this pretty much sums up how i felt 11 miles in – great!

And I want to do it again.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, sunday, upstate New York

A little autumnal inspiration…

DSC_0025From 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.

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Filed under beauty, Books, favorites, love, musings, Random, relationships

Last weekend – in photos

a bonfire with friends

photo(152)

soccer season opener

a memorial service
image: http://www.gbgm-umc.org

Were you Seen at September Splendor to benefit the Washington Park Conservancy at the Washington Par

an event – September Splendor
image: Joe Putrock

photo(153)

there were flowers

photo(154)

and a trip to the Hyde Collection

to see this…
image:nytimes.com

I think I finally caught my breath…

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Filed under Albany, art, Boys, Events, Flowers, friends, Lark Street, Local, road trips, Wine