Tutus and Tiaras

So there is a ladies walking group I meet up with on Mondays and Thursdays. We walk a loop that’s about 2-1/4 miles at varying paces. Some of us got together for this year’s Wilma Dash. This benefits the Pretty in Pink Foundation which helps women in their battles against breast cancer. The slogan for the 5-K is “It’s not always about who crosses the finish line first, but crossing it with style!”

Literally.

Most runners/walkers were in groups representing their companies, churches, neighborhoods, or just friendships. There were pink frilly tutus, yellow frothy tutus, gaudy 5″ high sequined tiaras, more tasteful rhinestone-studded ones, t-shirts emblazoned with quotes, slogans and catchy phrases (S.W.A.T.T.– Sprinters, Walkers and Trash-talkers), stetsons, floppy beach hats and gilded visors. There was even a funky chicken. I cannot imagine how hot it must have been in that suit. A field of over 800 runners and walkers, all crammed on Water Street beneath a billowy starting gate.

At the sound of the fog horn this human mosaic began moving as one, then separating, then emerging individually up the first challenging hill. Women who successfully battled cancer and won. Women who ran for those who could not. Women who ran for those who ran for them when they could not. Women with strollers, moms for fitness with children and without them, any age imaginable, everyone in the bright hot sun enjoying every moment. Cheering along the street sides were husbands, boyfriends, families, bystanders, and one guy with a mobile set of drums making up happy lyrics as each wave of women passed.

I usually run or walk with my rescue dog Lily every morning before sunrise for a couple of miles. A 5-K is only about 3.1 miles, how much harder could it be?

In the blazing hot sun, up and down gently rolling hills, along cobbled streets it turns out, a lot harder. Well, harder than I thought. Some women sheepishly taking shortcuts across city blocks, I pressed on, breaking stride now and then to walk 20-30-40 feet and catch my breath. then running, more sweat than I imagined I could ever lose pouring down under my baseball-capped face. Feeling better noticing other women with the same results.

38:52, final time. Probably shameful but I am very proud of that time….

I can’t wait till next year!

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Poison ivy

Most of us as children knew this plant, either by unfortunate encounters or because we listened to our mothers when they warned us about it. Or because some adult quoted the little jingle “Leaves of three, let it be”. However we came to know it, we did not want the result of brushing against it.

I had a childhood friend, rather a daughter of a friend of my mother’s I was often told I had to play with. This was one of those friends who, no matter what you did or could do or say you could not out-do or out-say her. Truly the “anything you can do, I can do better” type of kid. Bitsy’s house was almost directly behind mine on the same block in my neighborhood. So one summer afternoon, probably tired of my bored whining I was told to go over to ol’ Bits’s house and play. She was in her backyard doing impossible things on what was then called a jungle-gym or play set. I had no interest in trying to race her in chin-ups or the hand-over-hand bar so I occupied myself in the vinca looking for clover patches, maybe I could find a 4-leafed clover.

Bitsy jumped down from whatever calisthenic she’d just completed and came over to see what I was doing.

“Bits,” I warned, “there’s poison ivy right over there.”

“Oh, I’m not allergic,” she smugly replied.

“Bitsy, practically everybody is allergic to poison ivy.”

Undaunted, facing a bald-faced challenge she reached down, grabbed a hefty patch of the weed and proceeded to rub it all over herself, face, arms, legs, every exposed piece of skin. I watched, disbelieving, seeing somebody more foolish than even I was.

“See?” she said. “I’m not afraid of it.”

Well, we went into the house to find her mother so I could tell what had happened, Bitsy jeering, “Tattle-tale, tattle-tale,” until her mother, sitting in a chair quietly reading a book, now completely engaged, grabbed Bitsy by the arm and dragged her to the kitchen sink where she scrubbed her head to toe with hot soapy water and a scrub brush. I was dismissed to my home.

A few days later my mother took me to the hospital so I could visit Bitsy and wish her a speedy recovery. The nurses said they had never seen such a dreadful reaction to poison ivy.

To this day I give this little innocuous looking plant wide berth.

Dogs

So yesterday I was putzing around in my garden in the backyard, Lily, my husky-mix rescue supervising idly while the bees buzzed and the birds sang in the spring sunshine when behind me it sounded as if a kennel had opened its doors. I turned around to see a tripod pitbull tangling with Lily right behind me, and two atomic streaks going by just beyond them. So my first concern was to get Lily off the tripod, which I did only after he went up on the porch, had a drink from Lily’s water bowl and explored a moment. With Lily shut in the porch, frenzied barking, I turned to the task at hand.

It looked like dogs were everywhere. When my eyes and brain finally focused I could see 3 distinct dogs, tearing all over the place. The tripod went back into his yard easily next door, then a nondescript grizzled black dog followed and the last was what looked like a Benji-Yorkie mix busily peeing on the Shasta daisies I’d just planted.

He turned to see me about to start for him and, ears back dashed over to me as though he’d been looking for me his entire life and *finally!* found me. He stopped just at my feet and I slowly bent down to pick him up.

What a cuddle bug! He nuzzled into my shoulder and it was all I could do to put him in the yard with his buddies. I so wanted to keep this little dog!

His persons apparently were none the wiser. I resumed my digging and planting. Lily returned to her watch over her domain. About half an hour later the back door opened next door and the dogs were called inside.

Private drama.

Weather

I so enjoyed an early Mother’s Day visit from my son. He’s completely booked with his dad’s family’s goings-on and work travel, so I am glad I had a glimpse of him amidst his active life. And his visit was blessed with pristine spring weather– no humidity, bright sunshine, cool breezes.

I should have known.

So hurricane season “officially” begins in the summer, June 1. Instead of following the rules, Mother Nature decides, 4 days after my son’s departure, to sling a messy tropical storm at us. And landfall is right here, the coastline where I live. We began seeing the first rain bands yesterday, more today, much more grey, humidity that soaks your socks inside your shoes and some pretty hefty winds. Though the center of the storm is not expected to come in till tomorrow morning the storm introduces itself to us in its wet and windy chaos long before.

This does not interfere with my rescue dog Lily’s morning constitution. We still go to the park, still ran our 2 + miles around the lake. We then drove to the beach through off-on spitting/deluging rains, gusty winds to see what the surf looked like.

Pretty wild. Nobody in the 70 degree water, either surfing or swimming. I learned that rip currents happen because the winds are pushing the water currents in all directions so though the waves crash like normal on shore underneath them all hell is breaking loose. Not somewhere anyone wants to be. The rescue vehicles patrolled the beaches ensuring nobody was dumb enough to try to outdo nature, which they were not.

But the surf. Wispy froth flying away from waves that crested maybe 30-40 yards offshore. Six-8 foot high, the waves crashed in arcing foam scouring the shoreline of any shells or sea life. My son and I had marveled at the number of periwinkles (tiny mollusks, a delicacy for gulls and other shore birds) washed up with each gentle wave as we ambled along the shoreline.

No periwinkles today.

And after a few days when the storm has turned back to the northeast and begun again in earnest to seek out the warm gulfstream waters the sun will shine, the winds and waves will calm.

Shell

So Lily, my rescue dog and I were having our morning jog around the loop near the beach. It’s been unusually cool with low to no humidity these early spring days, more rain than not, but this morning was sparklingly clear. My son is coming for a few days’ visit (yay!), and I overslept, so with our a.m. constitution, last-minute errands and a few other things I knew we’d be a little pushed.

But we enjoyed the run and as we came up through the town office buildings and walked across the Saturday-empty parking spaces, I spotted it. A tiny fragment of an eggshell. Not sure what kind of bird’s, it was white, faintly dotted brown. Sparrow maybe, or woodthrush.

In my own backyard the former owners had put up a blue bird box with a snake baffle. I hoped there would be occupants this spring but of course no way to know.

Late February I looked over my morning coffee to see a small beaked face peering out of the box. A week or so later, more activity, with nesting materials and much flying in and out. Yesterday afternoon I went out to fill the feeders and as a small, bright blue blur darted past I suddenly heard chaotic tiny cheeps and cries emitting. A family!

So that shell I noticed on our walk. In a few hours’ time it would be crushed by many passers-by’s footsteps to indeterminate powder, blended with the sand.

But I saw it!