Pathfinding & Found Paths

Sunday Runday and we should have known better than to go onto the icy trails after an overnight snowfall less than a week after an ice storm.

But the sun was peeking over the eastern horizon and lighting up the December sky in all sorts of pretty colours, so the ice seemed like a temporary problem which could easily enough be solved by four guys in winter running shoes.

Compared to this time
last year are you
more lost or found?

It wasn’t a temporary problem, of course.

And no amount of winter grip can make up for ten kilometers of hidden ice under two centimeters of fresh, light snow.

No amount of dodging into the neighbourhood streets and hoping for better traction on the suburban car-packed roads made much of difference.

No amount of pathfinding through the crunchy, fresh snow counteracted the frustration of pulled muscles and near falls and aching hip flexors.

Like so much this year, running has become something of a microcosm of my life and an analogy for everything else. A determined effort to engage with the world that has been met with all manner of resistance no matter my level of persistence. This week it happened to be icy sidewalks, but two weeks ago it was heel pain. A few months ago we were battling wasps. Over the summer I tripped and hurt my shoulder as I collided full force with the trunk of a fir tree.

Yet, we keep going and trying to make it fun.

Likewise, this whole year has been something of an exercise in navigating.

The pandemic. Probably enough said about that, but then again…

Work changes have taxed my frustated mind.

Friends and family seem complicated by twisted politics and nearly fully electronic relationships.

Weather. Supply chains. Misinformation.

Rules. Regulations.

Waves and lockdowns and everything else.

It’s hard to even recall that two years ago I was feeling quite solidly purposeful in my own way. Things felt found. Things were on course and on track.

At the start of this year, though, I think that like so many others I was feeling not just a little lost, but caught in a maze of a world gone mad. We cheered the end of 2020 as if it somehow marked the end of the worst of it. Yet, here we approach 2021 and I’m not clear on if I’m still lost, somewhat found, or just resigned to the newish reality in which we exist now.

The last year has been a little like running on ice. Uncertain underfoot and apt to cause a slip unless one watches every step carefully. At the end one feels a bit accomplished, a bit sore, but a bit foolish for venturing out looking for a running path where none should rightly exist.

On the other hand, the only other option is to stay home and wallow in the lack of action.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing to go pathfinding after all, through snow and ice… or through a crazy, slippery year.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Campfire Steaks

One of my favourite ways to spend a weekend afternoon is stoking a great fire and grilling up our dinner. Finding the sweet spot of hot coals, great weather, and a good cut of meat is a chill end to a quiet weekend.

Check out some footage of the final results:

I posted a lot of words last week and I though you might enjoy a simple Monday post with a little less reading.

Beaver Watchers

We run hills on Wednesday evening, and in a prairie city full of creeks and a river valley, the only proper hills are where the roads and paths cross the water.

It is not surprising then that our hill training brings us close up to nature, the bottom of our training hill being a bridge that crosses one of those creeks.

The creeks are still a little frozen, but nature never really stops working.

Last night we paused our multiple running repeats to watch this big guy, a beaver, paddling around the murky thaw of a spring creek still partially iced.

This is the same creek where in the winter we did a small snowshoeing adventure.

It’s amazing to me though, how even for people who routinely encounter nature on our runs, crossing paths with the likes of anything from birds, squirrels and hare to more substantial critters like coyotes and moose, we’ll all just stop what we’re doing to spend a few minutes admiring a lonely beaver in a creek.

Nature captivates… or at least you know you hang out with the right people when you are all captivated by similar things.

Those Woodpecker Winters

”Wake up! Wake up!” The woodpecker knocks, flying from tree trunk to tree trunk, swooping gracefully between the branches. “Spring is here. Wake up!“

Against the pale white bark of the poplar trees, her red crest hat can be seen by all the creatures of the forest, like a flame alight in dark meadow.

“Wake up, poplar!” She knocks. “Wake up, spruce!”

“Let us sleep. It is only April. The winter is still not over.” Poplar replies with a shiver of her branches.

“Even the ants are still hiding in their burrows. ” Creaks spruce. “Let us be if only for a few more weeks. Wake us when the hares winter white coats have fallen, or when the wasps stir from their nests. Not now. It is still too soon.”

“Oh, but poplar, if you do not wake now and show the fresh green your leaves to the winter she will not know her time is passed. And spruce, if your boughs do not bud fresh and bright winter will wonder why you wait.” Woodpecker knocks, flying from tree to tree tapping her bill against the cool wooden trunks. “So, wake up! Wake up, I say!”

Spruce shivers her needles in the spring breeze.

Poplar shakes her bare branches against the whisps of low clouds.

”Let us sleep!” The trees all say together.

And so woodpecker flies along her way, red hat and all, chased by a stray snowflake fluttering down towards the ground and adrift on the cool spring winds.