Category Archives: Seasonal Musings

Running Into Books

Where was I running? Why did I pause? Which pause led to a question? Which question had no immediate answer? What was the first book purchased because of a “pause point”? These were the questions that formed the basis for today’s internal conversation as I ran.

I started running as a release from some problems at work–daily behavior and conversations that lead to what I now know as psychological violence. The cool morning air veiled me in an hour of solitude that was the release, the escape, the magic carpet–the gift that would become part of my life. The first few weeks, maybe as many as eight or ten, the running was a mechanical release with only the barest knowledge–I was running about an hour. There was no more knowledge needed.

The mechanical curiosity of “Can I run a 10k?” came and went. I can look at the inside cover of the first running book to see when the questions about running started being answered. February 23, 1985 is the date of my first marathon. All questions now created by running revolved around pace and training. April 13th a few more questions, still centered on pace, some about heat and hydration were answered as I ran my second marathon. Three weeks later I was at the starting line of the Avenue of the Giants Marathon. A shift was about to happen.

I ran with eyes turned upward. I ran, almost pirouetting as I went, with no regard for pace. I don’t think I actually stopped while on the course. I can clearly recall slowing too much for some runners. It was the first marathon I felt was done with little conscious discipline. I turned where a race official said to, but other than that the “Giants”, those huge, majestic, and ancient trees took all my attention. The next day I walked amongst them. No answers were being sought. I just walked beneath those huge branches a hundred feet and more above me. That was enough–no questions seemed to call. I drove home.

One of many pause points
One of many pause points

As spring turned to summer, my running routes slowly became the trails I stumbled across. The quiet was there. The voices stilled. The running was less structured. The running library had competition from Edward Abbey and Aldo Leopold. The Monkey Wrench Gang competed with Catton’s Overshoot as my feet found Capitol Forest; a multiple-use forest a few miles west of Olympia. I also know that the different tree barks, needles, cones, and silhouettes were not yet asking me to stop and see what I was passing through.

Eclectic education
Eclectic education

A month free from pay-to-run runs let me think more about the where and what; that led to the ‘ologies—biology, geology, climatology, criminology, dendrology, ecology, meteorology, metrology, glaciology, lithology, nephology, orology, selenology…

The rocks at my feet or in the nearby Cascades needed to be seen. The wind that whispered or roared and pushed the rising and falling tides and moved the morning fog to where is should be begged of learning. The glacier was once over a mile thick here—that thought should cause you to stop and look up.

The ‘ologies came calling as the trails and seasons changed.

Tide, rocks, trees, sky...
Tide, rocks, trees, sky…

Scribbled notes were attached to the cobwebs of my mind. They were put there with no particular purpose. They come back with a simple, “Do you remember…” inserted into a conversation. I need to see more of what I pass through. I cannot do that when racing. What if I were out longer than a day? What if what I saw went from a few things to many and I did not keep notes?

Long walker
Long walker

They weren’t notes, not notes as we kept in school. They were notes made on the scratchpad in my mind from standing in front of a tree staring at the bark, at the leaves (even learning to see “needles” as leaves was a learning point). The forests detracts from the rocks, from the sky, from the trail. They demand. They command. A giant redwood on the Aptos No Creek Marathon stood at a switchback and its presence caused me to skid to a stop. The idea of a sub4-hour trail marathon vanished; gone. My eyes went upward. My neck craned. I paused to wonder… how old, how tall, how long have you waited. A book was needed.

Trees--young and old
Trees–young and old

That could be it. The redwoods hold a special place in my heart, but in the Pacific Northwest they have a surrogate, the Western Redcedar. The redwoods are two state lines south. The cedars are around me almost every run. Do I have more books about trees than books about other things?


No. In a totally invalid statistical study I removed (randomly) ten books from the shelves that are never completely organized. There are no books about trees to be seen in the stack–not a one. There are two books about running. There is a book about tides. Tides, as surely as trees, have caused many pauses.

Ships, tides, clouds
Ships, tides, clouds

Tides and ships and fog are part of our life on the island, but I did not live here when the running-driven book collection started. I looked at the books. The book about Death Valley was bought after one of our trips when we camped and ran there–a singleton. Unseen in the picture are the three books about ravens that were next to Matthiesssen and Hutto’s books.

Migration, turkeys, solitude
Migration, turkeys, solitude

It could easily have been ravens, or a single raven, that finally forced the needed learning, haphazard and random as it may be, to start. Birds are ever present. They are barely visible high above and clearly heard under the brush at my feet. Birds are large, small, skittish and quick to flight or bold and full of curiosity. They tell of seasons changing–with some luck and blind trust they can be used as a compass. Ravens or owls or all the birds I have seen or ever will encounter? Could one more book selection (randomness of the draw guaranteed) tell me?

If you see a pattern...
If you see a pattern…

No. The only clues offered from these six would be of the eclectic nature of the reading in this house. A last resort is to seek assistance from the local research center.

“Do you remember the first book I bought because of pausing on a run, or why?”
“Owls, you bought a book because of an owl in Capitol Forest–on the trail near Wedekind.”

Fog, prairie, bird, grasses
Fog, prairie, bird, grasses

Owls? Yes, that would work. We watch migrating birds high overhead. We see an eagle, seldom up close, and it often flies before we are through looking. Quail are skittish and gone to the bush before truly seen. Owls, thank goodness, are curious. They wait to see what you are doing. One watched me as I changed bottles one day. An owl can cause me to stop and sit–the sudden stillness on one or two occasions caused a slow descent on the branches as it watched me for sudden movement. They are large, medium, or small. The live in trees or in burrows. They are beautiful in the silence of their movement. Yes, an owl seen on a run could cause a pause that would pique the curiosity that would lead to buying a book not related to running.

No rhyme nor reason
No rhyme nor reason

It certainly wasn’t women…

———-Run gently out there———-

Birthday Runs

I think it was my 55th birthday when I last ran my age in miles. In that 55th year I was first overall at Daybreak’s Climb a Mountain 34.5 mile run to the top of Mt. Spokane–complete with a son pedaling nearby and grandchildren cheering.
I touched 70 km, give or take who knows what on my 70th birthday. In that 70th year I completed Le Grizz in 10:19:16 — it seemed a reasonable goal (actually, it was a failure in confidence–analysis on the way home fully indicated I should have believed in the subten-hour fifty-mile run being there).
The 74th birthday approached and I gave some thought to this 31st year of running. I am happy to run without paying for it, but some goal ought to accompany one or two days of the year. I parked the car; turned to the trailhead, then paused… aha? Aha! I returned to the car, took my watch off and laid in on the seat, face up. I started down the trail.
I ran some. I jogged some. I leaped two small puddles, with no noted grace. I ran up two short hills. I had to check a map, not wanting to end up back at the car “too” soon. I let a horsey person look at my map. I ran down a hill and smiled at a minor triumph. The first bottle was emptied some time ago. I looked at the half empty second bottle and looked at the map for a not-quite-direct route to the car. One voice was hoping for two hours. Two hours with no camera to provide rest points would be a nice reward. Disbelief led me to turn away for one last addition in time. The next junction put me on a wide trail, no horses had chewed up the ground here–I emptied the second bottle. A voice long quieted whispered, “Time to run.” The dancing hippos smiled and ran with me to the car. Ego led me to look in the window at my watch 2:14:37 … 37 is half of 74 and that is good enough for a birthday run.

This wonderful journey has not yet ended.

———-Run gently out there———-

An Unquiet Bear

An Unquiet Bear in the Night



What had woke me?  Whatever it was, something had told me to look at my watch from inside the sleeping bag so the light would not show outside the tent.  What woke me?  I laid there, involuntarily unwilling to relax.  There!  That!  My breath  went quietly shallow as I listened to the scuffle of gravel near the tent.  Seconds later there was another scuffling shuffling sound.  I guessed it to be the sound of a paw of some animal–a large animal–passing in these early hours of morning.  Then came the sound I immediately knew had pierced my sleepy subconscious.  I heard what awoke me.

snouaugglez?  zzhuoghullzz?

It was an inhaling, a snorting, a sinus clearing rattle, and an imagined head shaking that all came together to make a noise that said “big!”; followed by another shuffling step or two.

Shuffle.  Shuffle.  zzhuonghullez… Shuffle… going away… almost inaudible.

“Are you awake,” came the whisper.  The sudden shifting of attention let the tension leave and a sudden shivering started.  How long had I been frozen in silence.  “Yes.  Did you hear it?”  “Yes, grizzly?”  A silent pause as we both listened to the only noise the night air carried.  “Sounds like it’s going away.”  Pause.  “Stopped.”  We listened to a scratching and scraping sound; a clang of metal on metal — “It’s checking food lockers to see if any are unlocked.”  Silence.

I started feeling around for the flashlights and headlights, shoes, and car keys, as I waited for the next sounds.  Part of my mind was picturing where the zippers were–one for the sleeping bag; one for the inside door flap; one for the outside door flap; one for the fly flap–four zippers.  Four very loud zippers.  The anticipated loudness of zippers in the quiet of the forest brought forth vaudevillian images of creaking floors and stairs and noises in an otherwise quiet night in the Rockies.

“Yes, it had to be a grizzly; nothing else will make that much noise.”
“Do we need to get to the car?”
“Quiet! Wait.”

Faintly—we could hear it again.

Shuffle.  Shuffle.  zzhuonghullez… Shuffle…

“Coming back.” “Quiet.”

We listened to it pause; listened to its claws scrape the metal of a “bear-proof” food locker; listened to it getting closer.  My mind’s eye could see the car, the picnic table, the tent, the thicket, everything except the bear.  It moved and now I could track it.  It was between the car and the tent.  Shuffle. I wondered if Kathy was holding her breath too.  Shuffle.  Quieter.  zzhuon… very close.  A second, quieter, sound of breathing; it’s sniffing the air.  Oh, please smell some food, a bag of potato chips, anything some fool left on their table way over wherever.

Shuffle.  Shuffle.  zzhuonghullez… Shuffle…

I started undoing the sleeping bag zipper.  I found Kathy’s shoes, pushed them to her, “Get ready.”  We paused to listen.  We could barely hear the bear.  It was still going away.  “Pull the flap tight.”  The first zipper was unzipped.  We paused to hear a welcome silence.  The second zipper was unzipped.  “Shoes on?”  “Yes.” I pulled my shoes on.  “I’ll undo the fly, roll out and hold it open.  It’s light enough to see the car door.  Get a car key in your hand. Get to your door.”  “Okay.”

For the first time in ages, the fly zipper did not jam.  It unzipped and I was out and standing–looking in the direction I thought Mr. Bear had gone.  “C’mon!”  The comedy potential of the goofy old couple stiffened from several hours on the ground in the tent on a cold night in October in Montana came to fruition as we “hurried” to the car.  The giggling started halfway between the tent and the car.  The dome light came on—both a good and a bad thing.  Good in its telling me Kathy had her door opened and was getting in.  Bad in that it was the only light around—would Mr. Bear be inclined to notice.  The light went off. I heard the click as Kathy unlocked my door from inside.  I reached the door, started to open it, but, for God only knows what reason, I paused.  I suppose a part of my mind said, “If it was near, you would know by now.”  I looked around.  I held my breath for a few seconds to hear any sound the night had to offer.  I heard nothing.  I opened the door and got in.

Hi Kathleen. Hi John. How are you?  I’m fine.  How are you?  I’m fine.

I looked at my watch — 3:39:21 — seven minutes?  No, easily a lifetime.

Why are you breathing so loud?  I thought it was you.  It’s too cold to sleep.  I know that.  You want to flip a coin to see who goes to get the sleeping bags?  No.

epilogue:  We usually stay in a motel every fourth night.  The following day found us staying in Billings, Montana.  As soon as we were in the room we connected a laptop to Google.  For the next hour or so, certainly more than seven minutes, we listened to animals sounds.  We listened to black bears, old and young.  We listened to Sun, Polar, Kodiak’s, Alaska Brown, and plain old grizzly bears.  At the end of our searching and listening we were sure we had listened to a grizzly as it wandered through the campground way high in the Rockie Mountains near Two Medicine Lake in Montana.

We added “zzhuonghullez” to the spell checker on the laptop and went to bed.
Sunrise at Seiku, Washington -- Vancouver Island, BC, Canada on the left

———-Run Gently Out There———-

Ask the old couple

One of the treasures of being old is pausing. The run, walk, camera-trip, whatever today’s trip to the trails was called, was over. We were sitting on the picnic table watching water go by; listening to the bell on the buoy; analyzing the snow on the shoulders of the Olympic Mountains across the strait and, as always, hoping for whales.

A couple walked up from the parking lot, paused, looked here and there, then walked over to the small information sign. I know it as being too faded to be of any real use. They looked at it, glanced here and there, the taller of the two women pointed at us and said to her companion, “Ask the old couple?” Intentionally, or not, it was said loudly enough we could hear. I wondered why it sounded like a question. They came over.

Hello. Hello. Hi. Hello.
Do you know anything about what we are seeing?
Yes, we do.

The never-quite-the-same interactive interpretive talk took place. The Strait of Juan de Fuca; Vancouver Island–yes, that is Canada; the Olympic Mountains; it was a World War II coastal artillery installation; trails–yes, about thirty miles of them; the yellow flowers are Scotch Broom…

Eagle! Kathy pointed and all eyes followed.
Is there a campground? Yes, but it is closed for the winter. Bits and pieces, scraps and fragments of descriptions and questions about trees, trails, a bird or two, and even a conveniently appearing ship were meted out to these two inquisitive women. Is there a short walk we could do… an hourish? A description was given. They got up to leave. The gift of a conversation of exchange was ending. I asked, “And the ‘Ask the old couple?’, where did that come from?”

They both smiled. The tall one said, “At Chiricahua we were thanking a ranger for all the information; telling him our winter trips make information sources scarce.” He told told us if we don’t see a ranger, look for an old couple. If they are local, they will have the time to tell you of “their” park. The short one smiled again, “It hasn’t failed us yet.”

———-Run gently out there———-

Friends and Strangers

—–Friends and Strangers—–

Little things will keep you inside. “Injured” has so many names; damaged, impaired, hurt, harmed, wounded, ruined, and none are conducive to getting you out the door. I’m not injured. I kept telling myself it is just one of those nagging little aches that intrudes into consciousness just enough to worry and distract.

That settled, I headed down the trail–walking and waiting for the first twinge. A quarter mile passed, walk turned to shuffle and off onto Humpty Dumpty, down into the kettles again. Friends and strangers are always in the kettles and the gradual drop to the old cedar is an easy warm-up. Two spotted towhees burst out of the undergrowth, looking like robins in plaid coats, still partly covered with the down that marks them as babies; they spot me and disappear back into their leaf-strewn world.Sometimes the directions were unclear to me.
Just as I make the turn to the big cedar Woody Woodpecker laughter fills the woods. It only takes a few seconds to spot the two pileated woodpeckers, crow-sized, easily the largest of the woodpeckers, their red, white, and black heads bobbing back and forth as they chisel a hole into an aging cedar. On around and down into the hole left by the big ice cube some ten or twelve thousand years ago.

Sometimes speed calls for agility, sometimes a hundred yards of six-foot tall nettles calls for agility…or do I yield to the occasional sadistic pleasure of brushing nettles to wake up tired legs. I look at the old cedar, hidden down here in the bottom. We have guessed it to be six-hundred years old. It is the only old tree down here, alders and ocean spray off to one side, a field of thimbleberries on another, a scattering of wings as this year’s generation of bushtits learn their acrobatics–the ever-still, never-still forest draws me in again.

The distraction of the birds and the rolling zigzags of High Traverse are interrupted by the awakening thought–no pain, no discomfort, no twitchies–of relaxed running. Suddenly aware of everything seeming to function as intended, I change directions and head away from the trailhead, going, instead, to Lake Pondilla. There were two ospreys there last week, not full-time residents, but frequent visitors. And the trail goes through the biggest wild blackberry thicket of the area.

The whole run falls apart as I pull-test a blackberry. If they come off easily, they are (usually) ripe. It practically falls into my hand. The newest aid station of the forest is open. I sacrifice speed for calories–gotta be able to get back to the car, doncha know. A handful or two later and I continue on to Lake Pondilla, where I find school is in session for a family of belted kingfishers. I sit on a stump in the shade and watch as mom, then dad, hovers, dives, gets a fish, goes to perch–then drops the fish back in the lake as if to say, “Now you try it.” The two newest strangers to the lake leave the branch and the Kingfisher Comedy Hour begins. They hover okay. They dive fairly well. They fail to get a fish and appear panic stricken about getting out of the water. The rattling click-click-click from mom and dad scolds and instructs. Eventually a lesson is learned and one of the kids returns to the branch with a meal.

I walk for a few hundred yards up from the lake, the warmth of the afternoon sun feels good as I go from walk to shuffle to run to…well, almost to this-feels-good-and-I-could-run-forever. The waters of Admiralty Passage are touched with whites and blues as the wind from the Straits of Juan de Fuca play with the tidal currents. A freighter with a gazillion tons of resource depletion is outbound. Two kayaks hug the shore, riding the tide back into Puget Sound. The bluff trail is wide and smooth enough to run without worrying about footing–water and mountains pull at the mind as legs and shoulders relax.

The switch-backs and shadows of Cedar Grove wake me up. Roots and turns, vines pulling at sleeves, the climb to the old men is a transition into quiet. The floor is covered with who knows how many hundreds of years of cedar needles. There are a dozen or so trees showing their age, deeply drooping branches, burls and woodpecker holes, trunks twisted and turned from centuries of seeking the sun, and always a raven to scold me for intruding, again. I mutter, “Sorry,” and turn to leave.

The trail finally straightens, then widens. Two hikers at a junction are looking at a map, each pointing in different directions. I pause. Where? Here. Where to? There. Down there, right at the first fork, left at the … at least they had a map. Gravel crunching now, the narrow gravel road has no quiet spots, but it is free of roots and I want to open the stride again, just to check–just to push a bit. It’s effort, not pace, that we want to be comfortable with when on trails. Birds and berries, waves and wind have been acknowledged, now I want to put my mind to running. It is a mile to the car. Old friends and strangers are left behind again as breathing becomes rhythmical and the running on memory returns.

———-Run gently out there———-

Wind and Wind Chill

Wind, but no wind chill. I used that phrase before. I could find where I used it, but it really doesn’t matter. It is just the first thought I had about this morning’s run. There are two phrases from the scientific world that, consciously, or not, are part of our running world. The first, as mentioned, is wind.  The second, wind chill, is the more difficult of the two to know about in our immediate running environment, i.e., what is the wind chill where I will be running today.

The Internet has given us immediate access to trail maps, conditions, lengths, and enough other tidbits that our information expands to become a blob of useless data. Valuable time is spent sorting through maps picking out the “right” one. Yes, I rely on a map, a printed map, cut to size, folded just so and covered with transparent tape to render it absolutely waterproof. I don’t use a GPS unit. A simple watch is on my wrist. I will have an idea of distance and elevation by consulting the map. I could easily write another article about my mysterious lack of desire for gadgets electronic. I might do that soon — it will probably be titled, “Old School”. Oh, well–for now, suffice it to say, I have my map.
a_topoMy map tells me nothing about the wind. The information of importance starts with a check of the thermometer on the back porch; the one in the shade. The mercury sits at 42° Fahrenheit. The tops of the two Western Redcedars, well over one-hundred feet above me are dancing–the music they dance to is barely felt here at ground level. My first guess at today’s wind speed is about 25 mph. My two layers of a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt suddenly seem one-layer shy of warm. My educated guess is that the wind chill make that 42° feel closer to 30°. I have no intention of running into the cold and making adjustments from there. Adjustments made late in wind chill can be too late; not too late in a fatal sort of way, just too late for a run to be enjoyable.
I studied the tops of the trees again. The dancing seems the same. I watch long enough to make a guess at the wind’s place of origin. It is coming out of the southeast. Wind from the southeast tends to mean warmer than if it were coming out of the northwest. The Aleutian Low brings the cold. The Pacific (or Hawaiian) High brings relative warmth. They are the two main contributors to our weather in the Pacific Northwest and were studied early as I learned, often the hard way, what I needed to know to make running trails enjoyable. Anabatic (winds climbing mountain slopes), katabatic (winds going down the mountains), land breezes and sea breezes and that one simple important idea–winds always blow from cooler temperature regions to warmer temperature regions. Perhaps the simplest lesson was learning which direction to look to judge the day’s weather and what the sky will tell about the next few hours. There was one other thing to learn and commit to memory. Reading about the wind as told by the forest and prairie.

The Beaufort Wind Scale is a series of thirteen wind descriptors with Force 0 being calm and Force 12 being hurricane conditions.
a_beaufortOur (runners) concerns are nature’s signs that tell us when the winds are about Force 3 (8-12 mph) up to Force 6 (25-31 mph). A Force 3 wind causes leave and twigs to blow about, small flags are held out from their staff. Wind at Force 4 (11-16 mph) moves small branches, blows pieces of paper about, causes tall grasses to bend. At Force 5 (17-21 mph) small leafy trees begin to sway — the trees are dancing. When Force 6 (22-27) comes a calling, large branches are swaying and there is a whistling in the wires. You don’t need to carry an anemometer around with you to measure wind speeds. Simply remember those keys for what moves at Beaufort Wind Scale Force 3 – 6. Forces 3 through 5 will give you clues as to how many layers to add. If you think you see indicators for Force 6, you might want to give consideration to getting out of the woods.

Recognizing, through reading the grasses, limbs, or trash moving about, the winds below Force 6 will give a person a head start in dressing for the wind chill factor, i.e., dressing for how cold you might feel, regardless of what the thermometer shows.

Weather is a constant companion when we are on the trails. Make friends with it, or, at the least, learn to recognize it as winter unfolds.

———-Run gently out there———

Still not used to it

Something to add ramblings to…
The giddiness of crossing a finish line has varied in degrees, but has never gone away. It might be because the ultramarathon does not lend itself to visualization. How many times do we hear (or utter), “I don’t even like to drive that far.” This is often accompanied by noting, on the way home, when you have driven the distance just run. jul_17_18 017My first ultra was a ten-lapper 50 km run at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington. There was no Internet, no Facebook, no nothing back then–the training had been done in solitude with no one to consult. There were days of training runs several hours long; my feet taking me here and there in the forest west of Olympia. A phrase that still wanders in and out of my mind was born on those trails, “No footsteps but mine”. There was little to write about except some idea of how long I had ran here and there.  A day’s run would end with a sandwich, a drink, and a look at the surroundings, “Did I really just run up there, across to there, down there, and…” The paradox of knowing I had, while always doubting I could, would grow into the unending appreciation for covering ground, sometimes quite a bit of it, on my feet. Even those days when I outran the water I carried or the days when the leeward side of the mountain was needed because I had neglected to look at the weather, again, were ended with a certain joy—joy for being done; joy for knowing I would return.late_summer_2011 072
Adjustments were made. I learned to eat for the running I was doing. A Three Musketeers candy bar was in a small bag attached to the web belt.  A conversation with someone whose name I never knew led me to having a second bag in that bag;  second bag  being full of chunks of baked and salted chunks of potatoes. A gallon jug of water was hidden at some allegedly strategic point as I drove to the day’s starting point. I paid attention to the westerly sky.  A small, but useful knowledge of the sky and its clouds, both good and bad, was slowly learned.  Gloves were carried most of the year.  Fog and wind were felt and tasted–salt on the wind told me it was an ocean breeze and rain would soon be on my shoulders. A pause at a junction; was the wind strong enough I needed to turn down into the protection of the valley?  Silence greeted most of my questions.  It would be a line of one of Gordon LIghtfoot’s songs, The Canadian Railroad Trilogy, that would come to mind on days when the wind was still; the rain somewhere unbidden; “When the green dark forest was too silent to be real.” IMG_2325
The absolute thrill, inner of shared aloud, of pointing at distant hills or valleys and saying, “We crossed that.” We had been at starting lines together.  We had left them with varying intentions.jul_17_18 143
Simple pleasures outweighed iowa_mn_end02aug 172
Where would you run if you had just one left?a_watching

———-Run gently out there———-

Balanced Time

Sunrise was at 7:00 a.m. (PST) this morning. It says so on the tide table I print and tape to the refrigerator door at two-week intervals. Since the only thing I do in the morning is look out the window to see if I should grab the camera and run down to fail to capture the magic of an outgoing time, again. I barely noticed that seven o’clock part on first glance. I poured a cup of coffee and went out to sit on the porch steps.The sunrise that went on and on and on...The quiet of morning. The warmth of coffee. An incoming tide halfway done with its work; seals barking and slapping the water–the grey of dawn hides the mountains across the strait. A hint of fall’s chill is in the coldness of the porch steps. It seeps through my pajamas, old bones creak, but not enough to make me take the coffee back inside. An eagle’s chittering can be heard; not a noise to wake others, just talking to a neighbor, unseen. Seven o’clock?
sunrise 002
When running down a trail and some fragment of a memory, some sliver of almost knowledge comes calling, the best I can do is repeat if a few times and hope to recall it when I get home. It seldom works, hundreds of pages of tales and tellings and scribbles and notes have been left on a scratch pad that I never find outside the forested trails. But, I am on the porch and seven o’clock must mean something, I can go inside.
The second cup of coffee is held in front of the tide chart that is on the refrigerator. Will its vapors expose the secret of high tides and low tides and sunrises and sunsets and … sunset? The tide chart is printed two weeks at a time. In a vague sort of way it is useful for running. Running the beach at high tide, if it is a high high-tide, might be ill-advised, but that is of little interest at the moment. My eyes finally catch up with the wisp of memory first stirred on the porch. The important information of the chart is the column headed “sunrise/sunset”.Mt. Stuart's sunset shadow -- by Scott Morelock Mt. Stuart’s sunset shadow — by Scott Morelock

Sunrise crosses 7:00 a.m. this morning, sunset is at 4:47 p.m. As the sun continues its (perceived) journey southward, sunset is a minute or two earlier each evening. Instructions or reminders to do this or that are adjusted in accordance with the time of the setting sun. A seemingly few days ago it was to take a flashlight if you will be out past six o’clock.  Now I see the 7:00 a.m. and 4:47 p.m. and the card that fills the straight is dealt.
We are approaching the day, in my corner of the world, when the sun cracks the eastern horizon the same number of hours and minutes before midday as will pass before the sun goes out of sight to the west of me, behind the Olympic Mountains. This year it is December 1st, sunrise 7:40 a.m., sunset 4:20 p.m., both Pacific Standard Time.ebey_night_02 I took the cup of coffee and with a certain amount of smugness, went back to the steps on the front porch.

———-Run gently out there———-

Running – possibly in a storm

I am not sure.  I found these two paragraphs.  I know most of what I write, but these seem to go out into the weather and I have not done that lately–not running; not recalled.a_coast

As so many times before, the first drops of rain brought the late Keith Whitley’s “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” to mind. I was silently getting through “I’m no stranger to the rain, I’m a friend of thunder…” when the first flash of lightning came. We don’t get many thunderstorms up here. We get gentle rain, sometimes followed by hard rain, sometimes accompanied by wind, but we don’t get flashing lights and sound effects. “And I’m good at finding shelter in a downpour….” Maybe I should try for another song.rockport_st_park_ 062 I wasn’t worried about the lightning as I had turned down onto a trail that was winding its way around and down—down where no trees were on high to attract a random bolt of electricity. I was looking for some cedars—nature’s umbrellas. I got to them and sat down on one of the contorted roots I had long ago understood to be there as a bench for when I wanted to sit and pause in the quiet of the bottom of the kettle. I pulled a smashed up PB&J from the pouch, knowing I wouldn’t need much time to eat it. Rain that started that suddenly with that intensity seldom lasts very long around here.rockport_st_park_ 042The quiet returned as the rain passed. The rain laden leaves were heavy enough so as to not dance in the rising wind. My sandwich was finished and the rain was gone. I got up, listened to the creaks and pops of my now cold joints, and started the climb to the bluff overlooking the beach. Passing storms mix the grays, greens, blues, and whites of the water in the strait that, like snowflakes, are never recalled as having been seen before. The eastbound storms hide the mountains to the south and east, but the westerly end of the mountains are visible and sharply silhouetted by the lowering sun.aaa_ 022 A raft of surf scoters, probably never having acknowledged the storm, bob on the waves.  There are three kayakers just pushing their always frail looking watercraft back into the waves. I wondered if they had soggy PB&Js to eat while waiting out the storm. The sun is a lot lower than I had expected and I needed to head for the car, but the clarity of wave patterns and snow lines on the mountains kept holding me there. The contrasting stillness of the mountains and the ever moving waters of the strait are left to a poet to describe—all I can do is look from one to the other. The contradictory thought of each being older than the other does not bother me.aa_sunrise4

———-Run Gently Out There———-

Just another day


I was digging a post hole yesterday; not an overly exciting sort of thing to do.  A man drove into the parking area and parked nearby; also not something to raise the pulse of the average citizen.  He got out of the car and strapped on his gun belt and gun (a Colt .45, one of the few handguns I recognize); still not exciting since this is an open-carry state, but I did slow my actions a bit so as to keep an eye on him.

He reached back in the car and picked up two small yipping dogs.  I don’t know what kind.  My ignorance became totally unimportant as one of the dogs did the yippiing and squirming thing enough to escape.  Said escape involved leaping from the man’s arms, tangling the leash around the gun and jerking the gun from the holster… freeze frame time… dawg (no longer a nondescript dog) and gun did the (why don’t things go to slow mo in real life?) unsynchronized fall to the ground routine.

Dawg  and gun hit the ground at the same time.  Flinch–short intake of breath, continued freeze frame.  A short statement describing the dawg’s ancestry was proclaimed loudly by the dawg’s (and gun’s) owner.  He kicked the dawg a short distance and reclaimed his gun; retrieved a rag from the car and wiped the gun down.  He ejected the magazine (gawd, I hope that is the correct word) and… wow… jacked the round out of the chamber (what good is a gun that isn’t ready to shoot?); blew the dust, dirt, and spiders out of the barrel, slipped the magazine back in… chambered a round (I’ll pretend I could tell he slipped the safety on), and put the gun back in its (safe and secure) holster.

I am still trying to think of how to describe the grin he gave me when he noticed I had watched the entire episode of a moment-in-the-day-of-a-responsible-gun-owner; a somewhat exciting sort of thing to do.

———-Run Gently Out There———