We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather here in middle Tennessee. We don’t normally get much snow…but this winter has been particularly mild…there’s only been one day of flurries.
I’m not complaining…I am a runner and this warmer weather has made it a lot easier to run outside, plus I can’t make excuses not to do it.
For the past couple of years I’ve been doing a lot of trail running with my daughter…and walking with my friend Demetra, who doesn’t feel the need for speed. The trail is in a state park and if you do the entire loop it is almost six miles…up and down hills and across creeks.
It is always a different experience for me…no matter how many times we hit the trail. I love the outdoors and am a great admirer of the improbability of nature.
We expect miracles to produce tangible results…so much so that we often miss the miracles occurring right around us. I try to take the time to notice what I might have been missing…much to my daughter’s chagrin. “Run faster Mom…you can look at the butterflies and sunbeams when we finish.”
Every time we enter the trail, I feel clean…and I am not quiet about it. My friend Demetra does not share my enthusiasm. While she can appreciate the physical benefits of our hikes…the mental “well”ness does not overflow for her like it does for me.
These shorter winter days have kept us off of the trail during the week, but we try to take a couple of hikes on the weekends.
I was hoping we’d get six miles in before it started to rain Saturday. It was warm, but I figured I’d wear my winter running gear anyway. I look cool and much more athletic, which we all know matters in the middle of the woods in February.
I tore my house apart looking for my jacket and found it being used as a bed by Buster…my daughter’s evil ragdoll cat. He and his sister Darla have been “visiting” me for six months. I am not a cat person. I am highly allergic and I like dogs. I made the mistake of saying this in front of Buster and he has been diabolically plotting against me ever since.
Even as I type this, I feel his icy blue stare boring a hole through me. Buster doles out his affection in miniscule doses, parading through my house tossing coins of goodwill at me like a spoiled prince…acting like I should feel privileged to be in his presence.
The cats are not allowed in my bedroom…and they hold a protest every night and commence with their uncivil disobedience as soon as my head hits the pillow.
They slide on the runner in the hallway like a toboggan…slamming it into my bedroom door. Then they slip their furry little mitts under the door jamb and pull on it…cat-talking the whole time.
Their meow sounds like “Nowww…nowww…” and goes on until I open the door and they scatter. As soon as the door closes, they get right back to work…tormenting me.
Eventually they figure out that they aren’t getting in, and march off to my kitchen where they hold a rave…opening every cupboard and dragging out whatever they can knock over or push out. They drink all of the water out of the world’s oldest goldfish’s bowl. He treads in four inches of water trying to make himself as small as possible in the plastic plants at the bottom as they dip their paws in the water and dance around on my counter leaving their mocking little pawprints all over it.
Buster holds grudges. He’s still holding it against me because I kissed him on the lips when he refused to let me pet him one day, when I was feeling feline favorable. After he tore himself out of my arms, he licked his paws…the same ones he uses to cover up his messes in the litter box…and washed his face until he got the taste of me off of his mouth. It’s been war ever since.
I asked him, nicely, to get off of my jacket. He held his head up…opened one eye, stared at me, and laid his head back down. I yanked the jacket out from under him and he jumped to the floor, yawning widely…reminding me that he still has all his teeth and they are sharp.
I keep those sticky tape lint rollers all over my house because Buster’s hair is parasitic. A few swipes and I was out the door and on my way to pick up Demetra for our hike.
Time to get healthy. I got about a mile from my house and realized that I didn’t take my blood pressure medicine. I don’t like taking medication…and I will find every excuse not to. When my doctor told me I had borderline hypertension I rationalized it was like needing to lose those last ten pounds. It doesn’t mean you’re fat…just not quite as thin as you’d like. Of course, that thought process was…flawed…and I was put on a low dose of medication…as a precaution…or so he said. I have my suspicions. Remember…I got my associates degree on WebMD.
Reluctantly, I have taken it without fail…unless I forget to. The first few times that happened, I sat waiting to explode. I tried taking my pulse…made myself crazy, like a human pressure cooker…driving my pressure up even higher, worrying about whether or not I took my pill.
Once I took two by mistake. Those were fun times. I was certain my pressure would go so low that it wouldn’t push my blood through my veins. I drove to the drugstore to buy a blood pressure cuff. I was trying to take my pressure as I headed down the highway. I called my girlfriend CBS (also my gynecologist). She knows how to handle me. She “explained” to me that I would not get an accurate reading taking my pressure while driving a car…not to mention that it was totally dangerous and stupid…like I said, she knows how to handle me.
Now I have one of those pill boxes with little compartments for each day of the week. This is a much better system for me. That way when I drive away and forget if I took it or not, I can turn around and go back up my mile long bumpy hole filled driveway just to make sure there is an empty compartment for that day.
Saturday was one of those days…I drove out of my holler…almost to the highway…and couldn’t remember if I took my pill or not. No point in arguing with myself…I turned around, drove home only to discover that I HAD taken my pill…and by the time I picked up Demetra, the clouds were rolling in…
And not just the little black one who jumped into the front seat of my car. Demetra was…crabby…which I attribute to a lack of vitamin D. According to my research, and the back of the gummy vitamins that I eat like candy…sunshine is an excellent source of vitamin D.
We spent so much time out on the trail during the summer and fall that Demetra had a better tan than I did. Her normal reddish brown skin turned almost dark chocolate brown. The tan on my legs from my running tights made me look like I was wearing surgical kneehighs in nude beige.
As we drove to the trail, the rain started hitting the windshield and I started talking louder just to distract her…but she’s on to me. She pulled a hat from her pocket that looked like a shower cap and crammed it on her head.
“It’s sprinkling…once we get on the trail we won’t even feel it.” What passed for a spring in my step was really a preventive measure just in case I had to start running to get away from her grasp.
Once we got about a quarter of a mile in…I stopped to marvel at how different it always looks to me. It was quiet and then I heard frogs…lots of frogs.
“Shhh…do you hear that?” I waved her to a stop, which wasn’t hard, because she was walking so slowly she was almost moving backwards.
She was adjusting her shower cap and scowled. “Hear what?”
“Your point?” She acted like she was interested but I knew she was just stalling for time so she wouldn’t have to walk any further.
“We shouldn’t be hearing frogs in the winter. They shouldn’t be awake.” I stood on a boulder with my hands on my hips like we were on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
“Okay Einstein…where should they be?” She would have sat down, but by now it was raining pretty hard and everything was soaking wet. Oops.
“Frogs hibernate. They bury themselves in the mud and under leaves and in little caves. It is too early for them to be out.” I pushed my bangs out of my eyes and they stood straight up on the top of my head.
She growled something…and turned me in the direction of the trail. “Move. You can’t save the world.”
For the next two or ten minutes…depending on whom you ask…I pontificated about frogs. As an indicator species, their survival and behavior is critical to an area and its capability to support life. Ordinarily she blah blahs me…she was awfully quiet.
When I turned around, she was standing there wiping mud off of her knees and her hands.
“Did you hear anything that I was saying?”
“No…mercifully I fell down and you moved out of range.” The black clouds above opened up and poured down on my little black muddy cloud. We turned and started to head back out to the car.
We rounded the corner past the mysterious fairy tree to the limestone cliffs. It always calls for some operatic singing and I am happy to oblige.
“Oh sweet myssstttteeerrrry of life…at last I found you….” I flung out my arms and murdered the tone.
Demetra tapped me on the shoulder. “Hear that? No more frogs.”
“Wow…wonder why they went back underground.” I climbed down from the rock.
“Oh sweet mystery of life…” she passed by me, rain dripping off of her shower cap.
“Hey…I think I’m getting some game…I was almost on key.”
“Yeah…okay.” She was squeezing the water from the cuffs of her sweatpants.
“Let’s go eat. If the sun comes out we’ll come back and finish this.” I threw my soaking wet jacket in the back seat.
“Oh no we won’t. My hair will go all nappy…and that’s not happening.” She pulled off the shower cap.
“Are those sweatpants or leggings?” I glanced sideways at her mud covered legs.
“Now you’re buying breakfast for cursing at me.” We drove off and headed to Cracker Barrel so we could exercise our jaws.
This morning I woke up and found the lint roller stuck in my hair. I must have slept on it. I know I had it in the kitchen yesterday because I used it to swipe the cat hair off of my running jacket.
I don’t remember leaving it on my bed.
My bedroom door was closed…but one of the chairs in the kitchen looked like it had been pulled out from the table…hmmmm.
My hair is now lint roller free…and three inches shorter.
Buster has pretended to be asleep all day. Every time I lean in to see if he is still breathing, he squeezes his eyes shut even tighter. Sooner or later he’ll throw in some fake snoring. It’s just a matter of time.
I caught up on all of my email and watched the Super Bowl halftime show.
Madonna hit it out of the park…
Proof positive…once you get over the hill…there are a lot more mountains waiting for you to climb.
Make sure to wear some good shoes…if you’re lucky, it will be a long walk.
Day Three hundred and twenty two and three hundred and twenty one…time for pizza…