Category Archives: Holidays-Veterans

Thanksgiving 2015

I have slept in the cold by the railroad tracks;
–I am thankful to have a warm house.
I have wondered where the next meal would come from;
–I am thankful for food in the kitchen.
I have buried friends and relatives;
–I am thankful to be amongst the living.
We have enough to share;
–I am thankful for the gift of sharing.
I have a loving and loved wife;
–I am ever thankful for her patience.
I am still upright, able to be in the forests I love.
–I am thankful.
—–
I think of the many in darkness;
–hoping you each find a light.
I hope the many doors to loneliness are opening;
–that you may find companions for your journey.
I pray the hatred goes away
–and smiles replace the scowls of anger and fear.
I hope more learn what a gift we are to each other;
–and those gifts are shared.

Peace and prayers for Thanksgiving to all — all.

chuckanut 008

———- Run gently out there ———-

Veterans Day

U.S. Cemetery, Normandy, France, 18 October 2004

normandy
We had been walking around, looking here and there, and feeling the deeply emotional undercurrent. Kathy pointed at the beautiful white sandy beaches, saying, “It’s hard to imagine a battleground here.” I looked at the beaches, at a few rusting steel remnants of a beachhead from long ago; sand and water swirling around them–soon to be gone. I said something like, “Nature and sixty years can hide a lot,” and we paused to sit on a bench in the warm afternoon.

I started watching one old guy. I don’t know what drew my eyes to him, but I turned to watch him closely. He had a piece of paper in his hands. He looked at a cross; moved on. He bent to look at a cross; looked at his paper and moved over one row. I could see his head look to the left, then behind him at the rows. I still swear I could see his head nod as he counted, then he took a step to the right and looked. He bent briefly, touching the cross as if to steady himself–then he knelt. I nudged Kathy, “He found him.” “Him?”

He had found someone who had stayed behind so he could go home.

Thank you to all veterans. All. Everywhere. Always.

———- Run gently out there ———-

Veterans Day – 1

IMG_0340Brown Shoes and Black Shoes

There are these two old men that I see wandering here and there, never quite entering my running environment for some reason.  I have seen them when I am pedaling to the store, driving to the post office, or from a bus, but had never encountered them while on foot.  When I first saw them their number was three.  Time, being what it is, their age being what it appeared to be, a reduction in numbers was not unexpected, but I watched more closely during their next few appearances–yes, three had become two.

Of the two that are left and having no names to put with them, I know one always has on black shoes, brown corduroy pants, green flannel shirt, khaki jacket, and a herringbone hat with a blue ribbon that almost matches blue eyes that are undimmed by the passing years.  The other wears brown shoes, khaki pants and shirt, creased from the years of wear and many years of ironing.

On one bike trip to the store I was close enough to see the word “Normandy” on brown shoe’s baseball cap.  I was flying on the downhill, too fast to stop even though I was becoming aware of an emerging need.  That image on his cap, two smiles, and a chuckle as I zoomed on by were all that managed to be recorded in the abstractions of my mental scratch board that morning.

Yesterday as I turned to run up the last quarter mile of trail I could see Kathy talking to, hmm, two old men.  As I got close I could hear words, then a laugh, then black shoes pointed at me and said, “Better give the lad some room” and motioned for them to move over.  Kathy laughed and I stopped.  She explained they (brown shoes and black shoes) were picking mushrooms for soup, and they were showing her which ones not to pick.  Minutes passed, old fingers, bent from age, pointed at white mushrooms, red mushrooms, tan and black were disapproved. It is a good “crop” this year, black shoes said, brown shoes agreed, and sliced off a piece of a tan cap for Kathy.

A part of my mind was playing with faces and numbers–1944 minus 16 (some 18-year-olds had lied about those last two years just to be in uniform) would be 1928, which would make them 82-years, or so, old.  Okay, seemed to fit.

Mutterings about mushrooms continued back and forth.  My curiosity killing me I finally asked brown shoes about the cap.  “Were you at Normandy?”  “Yes.”  “What outfit?”  A pause, they looked at each other, then, “The 82nd.”  “Oh.”  There was an aura of quiet, me and my stupid curiosity and question asking.  “Rats.”  Then Kathy said, “St. Mere Eglise?”  Brown shoes looked at her, then looked at black shoes, both smiled, then he asked Kathy “Have you been there?”  “Yes, in 2004.”  Brown shoes thought out loud, “2004, sixty years gone by, quieter now, I suppose?”  “Yes.”

Four generations have come and gone since brown shoes and black shoes were born, just long enough to pass on the knowledge of which mushrooms to pick for dinner, and other things along the way.

———- Run gently out there ———-

Veterans Day – 2

Old Men and an Old Man on the Trails

jem_31_mar_2009_ft_ebey 132 (Medium)

Fall in the Pacific Northwest and the running gets quieter as the rains soften the leaf covered trails.  I parked the car and started running down the Kettles Trail.  I was headed for the old men up on Cedar Grove Trail–cedars and firs that have been shedding needles for two or three hundred years.  One old man, limbs bent from fighting the wind while seeking the sun for these many many years, always brings me to a stop.

Six feet thick he stands, most limbs bare, bark deeply grooved and fire scarred on one side.  Many times I have asked him what happened those summers and winters gone by.  Just as many times no answer was offered.  Three ravens were perched on his lower limbs one day.  They told me tales of winters gone by, of summers long ago.

Today at the fork leading to the old men was another old man.  He had a walking staff and stood to one side to allow me to pass.  I pointed left, saying he was okay.  He asked where my fork led.  I slowed.  You never know which interruption is to be an “important” one–which one is to becomes a memory–but the woods are not to be hurriedly passed through.  I paused.

I told of the loop I was heading up, to the old trees, the “old men” as I called them.  He said he was walking the trails trying to remember them from before the war.  They weren’t trails then.  They were logging roads.  Oh.  That war.  My father’s war.  He spoke of living and working out here, days at a time, never thinking of returning to town.  The sounds of the axes would stop in the evening and the bluffs would call.  He told of watching whales and ships and sunsets from the bluffs.

He asked of my running.  I said it’s not really running.  I pause to talk to trees and ravens and listen to the early songs of fall’s migrating birds.  I run the bluffs answering the same calls you did those many years ago.  Perhaps some of my whales were his whales before he left for less peaceful lands.

We talked of Vermont and of Georgia, of France and Germany, of the Pyrenees and the Rockies, of scattered families and friends, some gone, some remembered, some somewhere ever unknown to us.

He looked at his watch, smiled, “I must go and find my car,” he said.

I gave directions, offered my hand in thanks and farewell.  The twists in the trail separated us quickly as I headed for the old men to tell them of an old man.

Perhaps they would remember his passing.

Run gently out there.

November 2005

Normandy Revisited

norm_blogA June 6th reflection

—–Brown Shoes, Black Shoes—–

There are these two old men that I see wandering here and there, never quite entering my running environment for some reason. I have seen them when I am pedaling to the store, driving to the post office, or from a bus but have never encountered them while on foot. When I first saw them their number was three. Time being what it is, their age being what it appeared to be, a reduction in numbers was not unexpected, but I watched more closely during their next few appearances—yes, three have become two.

Of the two that are left, having no names to put with them, I know one always has on black shoes, brown corduroy pants, green flannel shirt, khaki jacket, and a herringbone hat with a blue ribbon that almost matches blue eyes that are undimmed by the passing years. The other wears brown shoes, khaki pants, and shirt—creased from the years of wear and many years of ironing.

On one bike trip to the store I was close enough to see the word “Normandy” on brown shoes’ baseball cap. I was flying on the downhill—too fast to stop, even though I was becoming aware of an emerging need. That word on his cap, two smiles, and a chuckle as I zoomed on by were all that managed to be recorded in the abstractions of my mental scratchboard that morning.

Yesterday as I turned up the last quarter mile of trail, I could see Kathy talking to, hmm, two old men. As I got close I could hear words, then a laugh, then black shoes pointed at me and said, “Better give the lad some room,” and motioned for them to move over. Kathy laughed, and I stopped. She explained they (brown shoes and black shoes) were picking mushrooms for soup—and they were showing her which ones not to pick. Minutes passed, old fingers, bent from age, pointed at white mushrooms, red mushrooms—tan and black were disapproved—a good “crop” this year, black shoes said; brown shoes agreed and sliced off a piece of a red cap for Kathy.

A part of my mind was playing with faces and numbers—1944 minus 16 (some 18-year-olds had lied about those last two years just to be in uniform) would be 1928, which would make them 82 years or so old. Okay, seemed to fit.

Mutterings continued back and forth. My curiosity killing me, I finally asked brown shoes about the cap. “Were you at Normandy?” “Yes.” “What outfit?” A pause, they looked at each other, then, “The 82nd.” Oh. There was an aura of quiet.  Me and my stupid curiosity and question asking—ratz—then Kathy said, “Sainte Mère Église?” Brown shoes looked at her, then looked at black shoes; both smiled.  He asked, “Have you been there?” Kathy replied, “Yes, 2004.” Black shoes looked at her, then at me. “2004, sixty years gone by. Quieter now, I suppose?” Kathy nodded. “Yes.”

Four generations have come and gone since brown shoes and black shoes were born. Kathy and I have seen two more generations. Just long enough to listen to someone pass on the knowledge of which mushrooms to pick for dinner—and other things along the way.

Normandy Remembered

norm_blog
                                                          Brown Shoes, Black Shoes

There are these two old men that I see wandering here and there, never quite entering my running environment for some reason. I have seen them when I am pedaling to the store, driving to the post office, or from a bus but have never encountered them while on foot. When I first saw them their number was three. Time being what it is, their age being what it appeared to be, a reduction in numbers was not unexpected, but I watched more closely during their next few appearances—yes, three have become two.

Of the two that are left, having no names to put with them, I know one always has on black shoes, brown corduroy pants, green flannel shirt, khaki jacket, and a herringbone hat with a blue ribbon that almost matches blue eyes that are undimmed by the passing years. The other wears brown shoes, khaki pants, and shirt—creased from the years of wear and many years of ironing.

On one bike trip to the store I was close enough to see the word “Normandy” on brown shoes’ baseball cap. I was flying on the downhill—too fast to stop, even though I was becoming aware of an emerging need. That word on his cap, two smiles, and a chuckle as I zoomed on by were all that managed to be recorded in the abstractions of my mental scratchboard that morning.

Yesterday as my run was ending and I turned up the last quarter mile of trail, I could see Kathy talking to, hmm, two old men. As I got close I could hear words, then a laugh, then black shoes pointed at me and said, “Better give the lad some room,” and motioned for them to move over. Kathy laughed, and I stopped. She explained they (brown shoes and black shoes) were picking mushrooms for soup—and they were showing her which ones not to pick. Minutes passed, old fingers, bent from age, pointed at white mushrooms, red mushrooms—tan and black were disapproved—a good “crop” this year, black shoes said; brown shoes agreed and sliced off a piece of a red cap for Kathy.

A part of my mind was playing with faces and numbers—1944 minus 16 (some 18-year-olds had lied about those last two years just to be in uniform) would be 1928, which would make them 82 years or so old. Okay, seemed to fit.

Mutterings continued back and forth. My curiosity killing me, I finally asked brown shoes about the cap. “Were you at Normandy?” “Yes.” “What outfit?” A pause, they looked at each other, then, “The 82nd.” Oh. There was an aura of quiet. Me and my stupid curiosity and question asking—ratz—then Kathy said, “Sainte Mère Église?” Brown shoes looked at her, then looked at black shoes; both smiled. “Have you been there?” Kathy replied, “Yes, 2004.” Black shoes looked at her, then at me. “2004, sixty years gone by. Quieter now, I suppose?” Kathy nodded. “Yes.”

Four generations have come and gone since brown shoes and black shoes were born. Kathy and I have seen two more generations. Just long enough to listen to someone pass on the knowledge of which mushrooms to pick for dinner—and other things along the way.

——-Run gently out there—–