Twofer Tuesday: running mantras

This morning Zippy and I went for a run on the trails. Trailrunning is great fun because it usually keeps my thoughts focused on the rocky, uneven terrain. My mantra is “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.” That helps keep me in the moment so I don’t hook a toe and fall on my face. However, today I struggled with the nasty voice in my head, telling me I was slow and tired and really-Tracy-you-should-just-walk-because-you’re-not-a-real-runner.

So I fought back with two new mantras.

The sky was blue, the temperature was a perfect 58 degrees, and the Western Meadowlarks were out in force, warbling their beautiful songs. There was no reason to feel anything other than pure joy and gratitude for my time out in the open space.  Today’s mantras became “Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing. Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing.”

Once those went on repeat in my head, the nasty voice was nowhere to be heard.

Twofer Tuesday: Cacti edition

Yesterday I went for a run on the trails. While stopping to stretch at the top of what Zippy and I refer to as “the slog,” I spotted a splash of bright pink off to the side of the trail. At first I thought it was a candy wrapper and as I moved closer, decided it was a painted rock. It was neither. Sitting there all by itself was a perfectly round, perfectly lovely little cactus. **

Later, as I continued running, I noticed something sticking out of my shoe. I figured it was grass that’d gotten stuck in some mud in my tread, and promptly forgot about it. However, when I was home and taking off my shoes, I nearly impaled myself. Not on a wad of grass, but on the spiny cactus that had hitched a ride on my shoe.

Now I remember why it’s much more fun to run on the trails than the streets.

(** I didn’t have a camera with me, but when Zippy went out to do an errand, he drove to the nearest trailhead and photographed the beauteous cactus for me.)

Twofer Tuesday: Western Meadowlark edition

One of the very best things about running on the trails in June is the Western Meadowlark companionship. They’re all over the open space, perched on yucca or rabbit brush. The colors shown in these public domain photos might lead you to believe that meadowlarks are easy to spot. Not so.

I almost always hear a Western Meadowlark before I see it. These birds have the most beautiful song. It’s liquid and lyrical, warm and smile-inducing. A pure shot of joy.

And lucky for me, these birds love to sing.

Sunday Confessional: The today-I-parched-my-dog edition

I went out on the trails with Emma today. It was sunny and warm (probably about 80 degrees), there was substantial elevation gain, and we ran when we could.

Another pertinent fact? I didn’t bring water.

When we got off the trail and back on the street, we’d gone about 2.75 miles and Emma’s tongue was hanging out. We walked about 150 yards and then hit a patch of shade. She flopped onto her belly, legs splayed behind her, and panted. I let her stay down there while I stretched, and then got her going again. Several patches of shade later, she did the same thing. Belly flopped.

So I picked her up and carried her.

We passed some guy who asked, “Isn’t she supposed to be walking?” Nope. It was totally my bad. I overexerted my short-legged dog in the heat AND neglected to bring water. Two belly flops from her meant the rest of the way home was on me.

So I carried the 25-pound dog the last half-mile. For the record, she completely enjoyed the ride, looking around from her new vantage point.

She’s still a bit tuckered, though. While she rested, I dug my water pack out of the closet to use on our next outing.

 

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Live music is better bumper stickers should be issued

Last night Zippy and I celebrated my birthday by going to a dive bar to hear local bands. My logic was that I’d feel less old and obsolete if I hung around the younger generation and heard new-to-me music.

The first band was a punk trio that played song after song in what felt like 45 second bursts of sonic-boom fury. People avoided standing in front of the stage because it was SO loud, and if I hadn’t feared for my long-term  hearing, I would’ve been out there pogo-sticking. There’s something invigorating about music you can feel in your spleen.

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Back at home where I’m modeling my wrist band that proved I was old enough to consume alcohol. I had to show ID for that sucker!

We stayed for two more bands and had a good time. Earlier in the week when I’d told my brother and his girlfriend our plans, she’d approved of my pre-emptive logic but also warned we’d be the oldest ones there. Well, I’m happy to say that Zippy and I spotted five people in the crowd who were clearly older than us. We high-fived after each sighting.

My plan was a success.

Today was another blue-sky-and-sunshine day, so I invited Zippy for a hike up in the open space. It was blissfully quiet out on the trails.

Another good call on my part.

Me meandering ahead of Zippy. We'd just scared up a Red-tailed Hawk, some magpies, and a flicker.

Me meandering ahead of Zippy. We’d just scared up a Red-tailed Hawk, some magpies, and a flicker that’d been hanging out in a tree together.

So now I’m moving beyond another year and another birthday, and looking forward to any-and-all good stuff up ahead.

 

 

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O pioneer woman

Zippy and I just returned from a hike in the open space. We walked up the street a little ways and were out on the trails.

Clouds and sky over ridge

Invasive mulleins in the foreground.

Unfortunately, I started having discomfort in one of my toes and guessed that the neighboring nail was cutting into the skin. We stopped so I could take off my boot and sock and, sure enough, my toe was bloody. So I found a small rock and used it as a file to grind down the nail’s sharp edge. It worked! For the first time ever I had faith that I could’ve survived more than an afternoon in Lonesome Dove (contrary to a friend’s long ago teasing).

Zippy and I continued on our hike. There was so much cool stuff to see (flowering thistles and seeded-out knapwood plants and bright red rose hips and wildflowers and hawks and songbirds), and I kicked myself for not bringing camera and binoculars. But Zippy used his phone camera for these shots, and I’m glad to have documentation of our lovely hike on this August afternoon.

Another mullein invading the space on the right side of photo.

Another mullein invading the space on the right side of photo.

This photo doesn't do justice to this thicket of white stalks which reminded me of birch trunks but are probably wild parsley or wild parsnip or something like that?

This photo doesn’t do justice to the thicket of white stalks which reminded me of birch trunks but is probably wild parsley or wild parsnip or something like that?

I’m so very grateful for open space that allows me to clear my mind and ease my soul.

 

 

 

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Thankful Thursday: The Snowshoe Edition

Today I am thankful for easy access to wide open space where I can clear my mind and soothe my soul. I am thankful for the sixty minutes I had all to myself, with no one else around except some magpies and a coyote. I am thankful for the snow- and ice-crusted splendor (such as these images provided to morgueFile.com by people who had the foresight to bring along a camera):file000982768957

I am thankful for the mystery of animal tracks in the snow:IMGP2641

I am thankful for the delight of seemingly random patterns in the snow (although I figured out the ones I saw were made by small clods of earth coming loose from the hillside and rolling down the slope to stop in dark blobs at the end of their dainty trails, an image I REALLY wished I could document with a camera):file000764401931

I am thankful for delicate, lacy sheets of ice melting in the sun:file000266534073

It’s been a tough week in a whole lot of ways, and so when I saw a cluster of mullein stalks standing ramrod straight in the snow, something about the weak shadows they cast made me teary; it was like some lonely roll-call. Lonely yet courageous. In any case, today I am thankful for Nature’s refuge that I found via my snowshoes.file000253375816