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I Knew This Day Would Come

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I knew this day would come, when I wouldn't be able to run any more. When the ice and snow would come and our country road would turn into a treacherous mess; when the mercury would dive to single digits and just walking out to the mailbox became an adventure. What would I do? How would I start my day without the two and a half-mile run? How would I get my blood pumping, my thoughts nicely aligned, my haikus written?


Well, I wouldn't. I'd just get up, get the kids fed, packed and on the bus (if it wasn't another --insert choice word-- snow day), eat breakfast,  feed the animals and birds, and start my workday, wishing I could still run.  And I'd go back through my photographs and remember 50-degree mornings with the sun slamming on the hills and what was left of the autumn leaves, mornings with my dog and sometimes even my daughter by my side, with the crunch of gravel and the birds flying over and the neighbors waving as they drove by. Mornings when my body reassured me it still worked just fine.

My road. How I miss it. It's hidden under a shroud of white. I'm waiting for a thaw to lift the sheet so I can see its face again. I've no doubt it's still beautiful, but I'd have to slow down to baby steps to even go out to see. Yesterday I plowed into the ditch just turning out of our driveway. The county wastes no money treating our road. My car being a Subaru, I simply backed out of the predicament.

 My neighbor's house, shining in morning light against cold front clouds.
 I'd never realized how magnificent his maple was until I composed this shot. A good tree can make a house without even being noticed. And this is a good tree.

 One of his sheds. I wish I had a shed like this to look out at. I'd put it in every painting.

 The whole spread. Everywhere I go, classic Ohio farmhouses like this one are being razed and burning down, replaced by spiritless modulars. There's not much money around here, the kind of money that drops mansions into cornfields, so the vast majority of our new constructions come in kit form.  They huddle on the road frontage like vinyl-sided shoeboxes, enhancing the landscape not one whit. Look how this gracious old wood frame house sits like a jewel in the fields.

 On this stunning November morning, I had exactly ten minutes of weak sun to work with. I saw the clouds beginning to break up, ran home as fast as I could, grabbed my camera and jumped in the car. I ran up the big hill and was in position when it broke out of the clouds. I shot and shot, and then it was over.

 Have you got me in the picture, Mether? Because my spotty tuxedo would resonate nicely with that white farmhouse. Keep shooting. I will look out over the meadow.

Thank you, Chet Baker. My photos are nothing without you. Just a bit of dog brings the whole thing to life.

I go to bed at night, having looked disconsolately at my swiftly returning flubber, and pray for open road.  Can a sista get a break here?

Apparently not.

Oh, by the way: I've now been blogging for five years. Imagine that. 1,232 posts, maybe upwards of 8,000 photos; ten brazilian random thoughts and a truckload of great comments from you. I look back at the 2005 archives and see that skinny puppy and those teeny little kids and marvel that it's all here to look at, but I never ever do...I just keep creating new posts. Reading even a smidge of my early stuff disorders my mind.  Someday, maybe, but not now. If you'd asked me in 2005 if I'd still be blogging in 2011, I'd have looked at you real funny.

To all you who've stuck with me, thank you. To all you who've stumbled on this site and taken the time to read the archives, thank you.  To those who've hit the "Donate" button, thank you, too. You're the laces in my sneakers, the sun on my hillside, the bluebird on my windowsill, the bat in my basement.


lovely lovely photos..
have you tried something like these for traction on your road:

Emily, I bought Yaktrax for the whole family a few years back, but as yet have not been able to imagine actually *running* in them. Is it possible? Can it be done? I guess I'm leery because I seem to be able to turn my ankle at the slightest perturbation in the road or lapse of concentration. Tell me more. Am I being a big wussy?

Bat in the basement again?! Is that your next post?

What about cross-country skis for that wonderful landscape you live in? That is excellent aerobic exercise and is easy on the knees. You could probably take that road, no problem!

Gorgeous photos! Great tree and great dog.
We're stuck here in our house in Virginia with snow coming down like mad outside. Bugs and the cats don't know what to do with themselves. Unlike Chet Baker, Bugs doesn't think he should put his feets in the stuff.

The pics are breathtaking!

I love your blogs Julie and mourn with you the disappearance of the lovely farmhouses and buildings and barns of SE Ohio. Hate to see them torn down and replaced with ugly modern boxes.

well honestly Julie, I haven't tried them for running.. same reason as you! They seem to have some more sophisticated models now, though...

X-country skiing is a great idea.. but the road itself probably gets too icy/bare to ski on it except after a big snowfall. If there's enough room alongside the road, that would be different. Mr Chet Baker might love to follow along behind running in the tracks, or perhaps even try to "ride" on the ski's like a friend's dog used to do..

I'm thinking a big oval ski track in the meadow, and you ski as hard as you can manage for twenty minutes. Me, I'm going to be sitting quietly right here, busting buttons on account of being a bat in your basement.

I think a nice commemorative five-year Zick donation would be real appropriate.

Thank-YOU for blogging! Someone referred me to your blog after we found a bat in our house, and I have looked forward to every post since.

BTW, if you have room you might look into a treadmill. I used to be adamantly opposed to them until we borrowed one last winter, and then reluctantly agreed it was better than nothing. My husband has since had a little heart attack so now we have our own treadmill. It is part of his prescription for avoiding another MI so it's here to stay, and my body will thank me for it, too.

I've got friends who use yaktrax for trail runs. If you decide to use them, perhaps it would be wise to invest in some sturdy ankle braces? Have you considered using snowshoes for walks/jogs across snowy countryside? Here are some tips:

Posted by Diane Borders December 16, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Julie, I lost one of my YakTrax when I birded in Minnesota in Feb. 2009, so the next time I bought a pair with the strap across the instep. With those, I'm sure you could walk, jog, even run as fast as you can across ice or snow and you can't possibly fall down UNLESS you try to wear them while walking across kitchen linoleum.

You're the peach on my cereal! That goes for every post but now looking at months of bleak, short, icy-whipped days ahead, of nose against the window, you're a compatriot.

Thanks for serving like Frederick, the mouse (Leo Lionni), who carries the images of the beauty days into the dark days lest we get to giving up.

Oh, and don't overlook the need for good arch support via the insoles, no matter what trax you end on. Happy Trails, wherever they take you! Leslie Y.

Posted by Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM

....and your posts are always wonderful and inspiring! here's to 8000 more pics!

You don't know how often I have thanked YOU. Your tenacity and love for this blog shines through with every post, Julie. If we all could be as committed and devoted as you...

Your photos here are stunning. Personally, I would frame a few with Chet.

Don't fret. You'll find a way to run. Dare I mention "treadmill"? (ducking)

That one photo of Chet is so evocative of Christina's world.
You are at the very least the Andrew Wyeth of blogging.
Congrats on your 5 years.

I'm getting excited like a little kid, when a I find notice of a post by you. I wait till I have time. I sit down comfortably, preferably with a beverage, and I read, and reread, and hit the Chet Baker button a few times, hoping to fin a post I don't know yet.

I am glad it's snowy there, because otherwise I hadn't just read the most beautiful, tender essay with gorgeous photos sharing the melancholy of late autumn.

You are medicine to this planet,
your bluebird (one of them)

Make that "find" :)

You've been here five years (an accomplishment indeed), and I'm just finding you. Keep up the great work.

The glow in those photos makes my heart ache - reminds me of the hills around my old PA home.

I walked daily there and had to quit in winter, not safe. Now in Texas I can walk all winter but brutal late summer heat/humidity send me to the Y instead.

Favorite PA time besides glorious october was spring when the red newts were moving everywhere, walks took a bit longer since I had to stop and road-rescue so many of those great little beings.

Thanks, Julie and Chet Miss Weezy in Texas

Posted by Anonymous December 17, 2010 at 6:00 AM

I guess I'm the only person who comes alive in this season?! LOVE the cold, LOVE the snow, LOVE snuggling under about 80 pounds of cats and fleece blankets.

But, I'm not the only one who LOVES your blog! Dare I say that I was one of the first regulars? Not in 2005, but I do remember starting in April 2006 after seeing you in DC. You were the inspiration for me to start my blog and even though it has been on hiatus for the past 5 months, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

OH, and I just bought a gift subscription to BWD for my niece! Gift subscriptions at $10.00 each everybody!!! What a deal!!

Ten brazilian thoughts? I wish I'd been to Brazil, even for one thought!

Julie, I've been with you well over four years since I heard you on NPR talking about blogging. Did you know when you started this that you would change lives?

Try running in the snow on natural surfaces like your meadow and woods trails. It's fun and easy on the joints. As others have suggested, snowshoes and skis are great, too. It's good to mix it up, and it all works the heart.

I think it is good to pay homage to the seasons we love, the scenes we cherish, the living creatures we adore, even as they are changing. Yes, remain alive and noticing. Yes, grieve when the brilliant colours turn to monochrome and the sneakers disappear into the closet until spring. Yes, hunker down and do 'home things' when the wind and weather blows. Do this, then put these things to rest. You're then better able to don the winterwear, get outside and glory in the sublime clarity of the winter light and all the beauty it brings. Then come spring...grieve when the snow slowly seeps away...

Perhaps I will have to try running (for all of us) in my YakTrax, and report back. Like you, I haven't done it because it seems like it would be clumsy. I wimp out via the treadmill, which of course is nothing like running outside.

If you can't run on the road, then walk those beautiful fields and hills out back. It won't be the same as running, but you'll be doing SOMETHING and it will feel good. Better than not doing anything, that's for sure!

And I think the x-country skiing is a fabulous idea. I've done it just a bit, and it is a great work-out. Thinking about buying my own skis this year!

What a beautifully illustrated post with those gorgeous photos! I hope your clear sunny days return way ahead of time for a bit. That is one beautiful dog against that beautiful background.

I was thinking your land looked like a good place for cross country skiing.

And if you stay frozen for long periods of time - hard to imagine in Texas - you might find a place where you could build a huge skating rink.

Both of these activities are high energy. So is spinning if you get the equipment to modify you bicycle or get a dedicated one.

I'm real excited today because I think I found a ruff, I think the first record since the 80's. Currently its being debated but I have a picture on my blog that will either be labeled a pectoral sandpiper or a ruff.

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