Summer Storm

One of the cool things about living on a river is that you can actually see the storms roll down it in the summer time. Most of the time they don’t even hit here; they continue East, staying a bit North of the coastline. Sometimes, though, we get lucky.

I love a summer storm. Taught to fear them when I was a kid, I now watch the weather and hope for one. They are short and they leave the smell of warm pavement and sometimes even a rainbow behind.

They pass quickly.

It looks as though today a storm is going to hit. I am finding a bit of a metaphor in this particular storm, as the news on my knee wasn’t as favorable as I would have liked. Now that I have had a bit of time to digest and mull it over, I brace for a little storm.

At the end, there will be the glorious smell of wet pavement, and there will be a rainbow. I will count my blessings that it isn’t much worse, and I will enjoy the rain. As I was reminded, this is just a brief snippet of my life.

This, too, shall pass.

Here’s to summer storms, singing in the rain anyways, and to kicking life in the pants.

summer storm

Old Bat Learning New Tricks

This past weekend I had a revelation.

Hey, sometimes they are few and far between when you’re slightly set in your ways.

To make a quick story long, being a long-time competitive athlete, it was always my thing to gravitate towards the more individual sports. That way I could hold myself accountable and always try to beat my previous times. I swam through grade school and college, and have since taken up a bit of cycling/triathlons, CrossFit and shorter road races. All of these latter sports have a competitive component to them for me.

There are a thousand ways to track your CrossFit wods. Online databases, notebooks, apps, whiteboards, etc. I can think of at least 3 that I have used in the past. With running, I purchased a Garmin watch. Now I know my cadence, pace, heart rate, caloric burn, how many miles are on my sneakers,  along with what I did on any other day I have run since last May. Same with my bicycle; my little bike computer tells me speed, mileage, time, rotations per minute and a whole bunch of other things I don’t even know how to retrieve.

I am drowning in data. Quite literally.

Last weekend, I participated in the opening triathlon of the season. I spent the week prior searching, to no avail, for my bike computer. “Ah well, I have my watch! It’s fine!” I said….  Which I remembered to turn on for the swim portion, then forgot to switch it to bike, then again to run. So, I knew my swim time “ish”. (As I turned it off in the transition area AFTER I had already exited the pool and put my cycling gear on. Wicked helpful.)

When I got on my bike and realized I had no computer and no watch, an amazing thing happened. I started to have fun.

I mean, I always have fun, don’t get me wrong. But now my speedo was covered up by clothing (phew) and I was solely in this race for enjoyment. I hadn’t been on my bike in two years, I was never in it to win it… So, I tucked in behind my oldest friend, and to my amazement…. stayed with her. (She’s one of those crazy athletes, and that’s a whole other story.)

No watch, no computer, and a shit eating grin for the entire rest of the race.

I hadn’t realized that my constant need for data had, in fact, sucked some of the joy out of my activities. After all, I am doing all this to stay in shape, be healthy and not have to buy new pants. Without constantly looking at my watch, I was able to take in and appreciate the race and the effort being put forth all around me. It was awesome.

I highly recommend it.

(P.S. I am 28 minutes faster at 42 than I was at 30. I thanked my old notebook for that.)

running smile.jpg

 

A Guy named Don

Donald Beaton, or Donald, or, as I called him, “Don Juan”, was a rare find and an unlikely friend made. I was 35, he was 74. He was a distinguished scholar and retired professor who taught famous people at Choate and World Leader’s children in Switzerland. I was tending bar.

We both enjoyed Dogfish Head IPA and a good game of cribbage. (Or 3.)

Over the years that I worked at Byrne’s, he would be sitting in the same spot when I would come on shift at 4:00 on a Monday. He was part of the mug club, number 11, I believe. He would have the cribbage board out and a twinkle in his eye as I got my bearings.

He was a damn good cribbage player.

He was a damn good man.

We discussed many things over those three years. I recall distinctly a conversation in which he told me one of his pupils was killed while on holiday, and after all these years it still tore him up inside. The tears streaming down his cheeks left no question as to how he felt.

When I gave my notice, I had two attempts to tell Donald, but I could not. Instead I left him a card at the Pub with enough money to cover a bunch of mugs on “$1 off Monday”, and thanked him for his friendship and his stories. He followed up by finding me and handing me  a card that said “I’m skunked”, and signed it “Your Friend Don Juan”.

He, indeed, skunked me several times.

The World lost a good cribbage player the other day, he just quietly went away.

Cheers, Donald. And thank you.

beer and cribbage

 

Reflections of a Non-Runner

The alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside,
It would be so easy to hunker under the covers and hide.
But my guilt gets the best of me and I get out of bed,
Try to focus in the darkness while I scratch my head.
My clothes are laid out from the night before,
Knowing if not, that alarm I would completely ignore.
I pad down the stairs to pour a cup of coffee,
Let it sit and cool a minute while I find my truck keys.
I look at my thermometer and decide what to wear,
Stepping out the door to some pretty cool air.
I pull into the parking lot where my friends await,
Seems as though I am often the one who is late.
Headlamps and lights and reflective galore,
We head down the road, always starting out sore.
1 mile passes, then two, then three,
The longer we go, the better we begin to feel.
We see sunrises, calm water and town at its quietest,
Completely at ease with our cadence and comfortable silence.
Before I know it, I am warmed up and happy,
Enjoying the fresh air and the company of many.
With odd things to talk about and no shortage of laughter,
There’s no finer way to begin the day…
than a run through the city with good friends along the way.

 

running buds

Me and lee

 

Until One Day

If today was the last day you saw someone, would you have been enough?

Once again I find myself pondering this question. Was I enough that sunny, October day? Would I have wanted to know that was the last time I would see her? And of course it’s really not about me, per se, but the experience for the other person; the one that I’ll never get to see again. Was it enough for her?

Being in business for myself has given me the “gift of gab”. Sometimes that gets me nowhere, sometimes awkward silence ensues.  Other times it opens up avenues of conversation that are intriguing and enjoyable, and those avenues get explored further each time they come in. A quick stop for cat food turns into a 5 minute conversation, then 10, and before you know it they come in with coffee on a Saturday morning. It’s how chemistry is found, how relationships and friendships are made.

I learned that she was a quiet activist, an environmentalist, progressive in her thoughts and her actions, a lover of animals and good beer. She bought all of her groceries at the farmer’s market and she loved watching the birds and both pair of fox out her back door. (One grey, one red. She noted the difference in how they hunted and reared their young.) She was simple and intelligent and utterly fascinating. She moved here from Illinois and loved the way of life and being closer to her family. We would swap notes on beers we had tasted at various spots, share restaurants that served fresh local ingredients supporting local farmers and contemplate the what if’s of politics and religion. To say that I enjoyed when she came in was a complete understatement.

She got sick exactly a year ago, over the New Year’s weekend, and I didn’t see her for months. I checked in and kept tabs through her husband and respected her want for privacy. Then one day she popped in with a giant smile and had me feel her head; the hair was growing back, her speech wasn’t as obstructed, she was happy and her old self. Our chats no longer were about beer, but rather websites about Paleo and Ketogenic diets. She never lost her spark or became any less intriguing to me. I believe the last time I saw her, she expressed her gratitude for my sharing of coconut manna; that had become her sweet snack of the day. (Dark chocolate just wasn’t cutting it, she said. And we laughed.)

I found out yesterday her time here is coming to a rapid close, and my heart is broken. I will always think of you, you kind, sweet woman. Thank you for your friendship and for the laughs. And thank you for always, always being so much more than enough.

sun-2

 

 

The Best of Days

Somewhere, there is a little yellow house with a speckle of white lights adorning the front steps and a half decorated tree inside. The coffee is ready and a fire is going in the fireplace. 

Today is my favorite day of days. Better than Christmas Day, even as a kid. Today is always filled with anticipation and excitement and festivity. It is a crazy day, yet a fun day. 

As on most days that I didn’t have school, I would run down over the hill to my grandparents, often still in my pajamas, to help my grandfather wrap or go to the grocery store with my grandmother. There were always hot cross buns, always hot chocolate. She was always smiling, wearing some sort of apron. The lobster stew was being started. Cheese and crackers were out and music was playing and there was an unspoken sense of joy and thankfulness. This was the best of days. This was the day that you got a small gift before you went to bed, and it was, more often than not, the most fun one. 

If there was stress of any sort from their house, I don’t remember it. 

These are the Christmases that I want to re-live. And these are the Christmases that wake me still at 3:42 a.m. on Christmas Eve with that same sense of excitement I had at age 12, now at the age of 42.

Somewhere, there is a little yellow house with a speckle of white lights adorning the front steps and a half decorated tree inside. The coffee is ready and a fire is going on the fireplace. And on the couch sits a girl grateful for simple Christmases with her Gibbi and Poppi and small traditions that will always continue.

May your days be merry and bright, and may your Christmas bring you much love and joy, wherever you may be. And may you find a portion of the excitement you had once as a child, and spread it far and wide.

From my little yellow house to yours, much love.

Merry Christmas,

-Regan

You said Run?

 

“Who does this shit THIS early on a Saturday morning?”

“Regan, anyone can get up and run in 70 degree weather….”

“Whoever falls first buys the first round!”

“Are anyone else’s eye-lashes freezing shut?”

“Time out! One of my layers has traveled much too far north…”

“Please hold, I need to get rid of some of this snot.”

“I’m good for a quarter mile.”

“Ice patch!”

“Where’s Jack??”

“I’m right here. I’m winning my age group.”

And so it went, for a nearly 6 mile jog in the snow this morning. We laughed and dodged cars and ice patches and laughed some more. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nobody even fell or froze any appendages.

I have always hated the winter.

Yes, hate is a harsh word, but entirely accurate here. It’s “friggin’ cold, bub”. Anywhere you go around here in the winter, the discussion is most frequently about the weather. Snow, ice, wind chill factors and arctic cold fronts cause some to run for the mountains to ski or lakes to ice fish, while others of us hibernate in front of the wood stove, gain an extra set of cheeks and re-surface ’bout mid-March.

I love the heat. Every year, about the time I need to start scraping the frost off my windshield, (Mid-October) I contemplate selling everything and moving south. You know, bein’ one a them ‘Snow-Birds’. Problem is, I can’t take the people with me. There are no people, anywhere, like Maine people.

And so I stay. And freeze my giblets. Every. Single. Winter.

I didn’t want to do that this winter. I didn’t want to get the seasonal set of “glums” that usually accompany this time of the year for me. I didn’t want to focus on the shorter days and the colder nights, my frozen toes and the lack of things to do. I wanted, for once, to somewhat happily embrace winter. You know, If you can’t change the situation, change how you feel about it type of deal.

So, I decided to find a cold weather activity that would: A. Help me enjoy the season, B. Keep the extra cheeks at bay, and C. That I could have fun with. Lucky for me, I managed to find some friends who were interested in doing the same. Winter running, here we come. With the first significant snowfall today, might as well head out in it.

I loved it. I LOVED IT! It was absolutely beautiful outside. (and it was only 8 degrees!) I was totally and completely  warm. The sound of our sneakers in the snow, and the cadence we had as a group was almost soothing. The company was second to none. Dare I say…. I can’t wait to go again.

When I got home, I had a message from one of the girls who ran with us this morning. “Find like-minded friends and your life will be full! Done.”

Cheers to that! Happy running!

group run.JPG