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Thursday, March 15, 2018

A collapsed field sparrow nest from 2017 along the driveway. Japanese honeysuckle, already leafing out. Spring is coming, I think. The daffodils are in suspended animation, leaning into the biting wind.

I raised the blind yesterday on two inches of fresh snow. No matter how many times this happens, I am still surprised. Oh! Snow!

Not as surprised as they are in the Boston area I'm sure. An Ohio March snowstorm is a joke compared to what the North Atlantic can hurl at the New England coast.  I feel for them. So much.

I surprised myself a second time by lacing on running shoes instead of Keen boots, and heading out for a run. You would think that, having not run since oh, August 2017, I might have trouble. The only trouble I had was working up to doing it, getting my mind ready to run. The actual doing is no big deal. I don't have to stop; I don't get terribly winded on the hills; I just chug along. I really expected to be a wreck, but I wasn't. When I think about the first time I ever ran, I stopped eight times in the first mile! Most of it is pacing myself. I didn't know then that it wasn't a sprint; it was a jog. Or maybe it's because I've been hiking most every day since I stopped running. I don't know. I'm just grateful I can still run.

Is this thing working? Can't tell... Typical Zick selfie. They're rare, because I usually look like a possum in them. Headband is pure alpaca--best ear warmer I've ever owned. Hair, styled and colored by Old Man Winter and Father Time. I'm kinda digging the steel coming in. I'm going with steely.

All I know is I've got to keep moving. Running gets the blood going to my brain like nothing else. My brain gets ideas when it's got enough oxygen. It gets inspiration. Best of all, it stops feeling sorry for itself.

Because I needed a lesson in gratitude this day, I brushed the snow off the Congletons' stone. I read it whenever I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself. I think of Thomas, oly 25. And I think of Ida B., born one day after Phoebe, albeit 119 years earlier, and gone by the time she was six months old. Just when she was getting really fun to hold and play with. If ever there were a great name for a baby, it's Ida B. I imagine her parents calling her that. Ida B what are you doing?

OUR LOVED ONES AWAIT US. Oh Osborn and Adaline, if you only knew how that simple line tears my heart up.  If you only knew how reading your stone and musing on your too-short lives can realign my thinking, again and again, more than a century later. For what it's worth.

 And there are the Long girls, who I'm assuming must have died very young, for the way they're all ganged on the same stone. Jane, Emma, Delia and Ora Lee. Such beautiful names for those babies. Oh, the tears shed over that little tablet.

And this one haunts me, because nobody knows who lies there. I think it's probably Civil War era. There are a bunch of these, all in one part of the cemetery toward the back. I honor you, whomever you may be.

I ran to this cemetery nearly every morning for four years at least. I always found something interesting, inspiring, sad, intriguing or wondrous here. I still do. I wish I could still meet my friend Clarence here, and hear his stories of life on an Ohio farm, of fighting in Viet Nam. Oh, the stories he tells. But he quit driving school buses years ago.

So I stop and look at what the snow did to Father overnight.

And Mother.

This post is me, telling y'all to get outside. If you can walk, hike, run, you should be getting out and doing something every single day. Mobility's a gift, and you don't truly realize that until it's taken away. Humans were not built to sit all day! We stand. Walk. Run. Stoop. Squat. Crawl. Nothing physical really happened to me to make me stop running. I just lost the heart to do it. I missed my little black inkblot. Things happened. Well, things happen to everyone.

 My challenge now, taking it up again, is not to do too much, too soon. That's how you hurt yourself. Keeping it under 3 miles to start, and I'm going to make myself take a couple rest days each week, too. Riiight. No, I will. Wiser than I used to be. The stakes are higher.

I'll leave you with this little barn and its artful tic-tac-toe junkpile, which never looks better than in a new snow. I think that cool dark crimson might be the perfect color for a building. It seems always to complement the sky, whether it's cerulean or Payne's gray. If the new neighbors mind my walking up their unmarked driveway to take these photos, they haven't let on. People around here just have to put up with me, my relentless pursuit of beauty, and my utter disregard for property lines. Somehow, it works. Probably because I wave and say a few kind words as I go by. Being kind is a passport you carry.

The beauty here is so sharp it sometimes sears me. It's good to start your day that way, blinded by grace.


Sharing many of your thoughts...oh, all except the "running" part. Now, at age 73 with two replaced knees, running seems like maybe not the best idea. I do, however, walk vigorously every day. And with my dog go through a cemetery (not as ancient as yours) nearby where we live. I pause at the stones and read them, wondering about lives. I also pick up trash (what is it with people...damn humans...oh, wait--that would be me also).
My cemetery times always make me think on mortality. Some stones set me to wondering wondering wondering what the story is that it tells. One stone has four names on it--

All with their years of birth--and all with the same death date 1987.
Wish I knew the story behind that--some common calamity the whole family shared? In these times?

Oh, and going with steel. Do it! While I have "red" hair, the white has been creeping in and that's the way it's staying. First, I worked too damn hard to get it that way, and, second, it's so much EASIER to maintain.
As for running--every now and then I do, a FEW steps. And the dog--she looks at me as if I have taken leave of my senses.

I feel ya, it always surprises me when I realize that I can still run.

@KG Mom, well of course. We share so much. I thinking from the antique names, you mean 1887, and it might have been influenza, smallpox, measles, diphtheria...they were all rampant, without vaccinations to prevent it, and it was tragically common to lose multiple children to the same disease. There are people who can speak better than I to this, and I hope they comment.

On and off over the years, I've done research into my family history, and in the course of trying to learn more about my Virginia roots, I bought a book containing a decade of death records for the county my ancestors lived in. I intended just to look up specific family names, but ended up skimming the entire book because it was so fascinating--and so sad, to see the number of deaths from illnesses that would be easily curable today. There were parents that lost as many as five or six children in a few days, with the cause of death for all of them listed as "diarrhea". Dysentery and dehydration, I suppose; and as Julie said, there were so many other diseases that could spread like wildfire through a community and kill entire families.

So many beautiful things to see and so little time to do it.

Glad to hear you are back on the roads..

@KGMom: I'm guessing that the 1987 death dates may *not* be a typo, since you mention "some common calamity the whole family shared? In these times?" I know a cemetery somewhere in the upper South (I choose not to say where) with three stones with the common death date of 1975. And, yes, there are such calamities in these times. Given our nation's current policies on guns, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot more of these out there than we'd care to think about. (Pause to climb off soapbox.)

And, Julie, I'm indebted to you as always for your lace-up-the-running-shoes, get-on-with-it attitude, and your dedication to preserving "ordinary" beauty for the rest of us. Like KGMom, I'm not running anywhere any more because of knees, either. But I'm in here or out there doing what I can do, every single day.

Being kind is a passport. yes.

What a gap...August 2017.
I always picture you out running as U drive to Cedar Key each day at dawn.
I'm glad you are out there again, it'll make my "commusings" more accurate.
7 mile Savage Race Saturday and I have been a couchtuber since the events of winter.
I anticipate pain.

That crimson barn with the winter sky and barren trees is such a painting. Love it.

Exercise really is a tonic for the mind, body, feelings. I'm another with dirty rotten scoundrels for knees, but I walk and ride and do outside chores with energy and purpose to make up for the running I wish I could still do.

Just wonderful - the whole of it. Especially love the barn photo and tic-tac-toe junkpile and being kind is a passport - you nailed it all! Thank you very much for continuing to run and continuing to blog. Kim in PA

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and inspiration. I've beeen out of commission for a while with a bum hip. But got a new one recently and will soon be hitting the trails again. Also looking foward to your keynote at America's Biggest Birding Week. Keep on!

I also take walks in a tiny graveyard, though not so old as yours, it is sad how young some of the inhabitants were, there are a lot of the cut-down tree markers.

ps-you look nothing like a possum.

The Johnson headstone mystery is solved. The family died in a plane crash in 1987. A newspaper article said the parents, Bruce and Nellie, died instantly with their two children, 12 year old Jobena and 9 year old Jason, in the family's Piper Cherokee while trying to land in fog and drizzle. A very tragic event.

Julie, here’s the thing...I have the date right—1987.
I have scoured the internet using my best research skills. I tried looking for obits, Find-a-Grave, and newspaper accounts. But nothing.
My hypothesis is auto accident. My deep dark brain says quadruple murder.

@Sharon—wow! My best efforts yielded nothing. Thank you. I hate an unresolved story.

The next to last photo (of the barn) has beautiful composition and lighting! Good on you for starting running again. I’d rather burn out than rust out.

@KGMom I found the father on Find a Grave, confirmed the names and dates then located them on They were on a family member's tree with copies of the obits.
I love solving mysteries like that. Part two of the story is that apparently the pilot's parents were in a car accident only 10 days later and the mother passed away.

Thank you Julie for letting us share on your blog.

Beautiful writing. Love the last line..."blinded by grace."

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