Column: Everybody needs a regular destinationThis bench is mine. It sits just 2 miles from the house (for a casual 4-mile round trip) above the shore of Lake Superior.
This bench is mine. It sits just 2 miles from the house (for a casual 4-mile round trip) above the shore of Lake Superior.
I aspire to be a crazy runner who runs a couple marathons a year, and puts on serious miles and smiles while doing it. But then there’s daily life. Since I’m a dad with real responsibilities that don’t let me delve happily for hours and hours into my own narcissism on a daily basis, I usually need to be content with the realistic.
I happen to enjoy running, but rather than call myself a runner, I prefer to use the term “explorer.” It drives my wife nuts sometimes, but she fully supports my addiction since I’m a better person when immersed in wilderness. I am an explorer who happens to enjoy running as his favorite vehicle to navigate creation.
My feet are in contact with the terrain, and the tactile sensation of the undulating ground underfoot is an important ingredient for a complete experience. Driving to popular scenic areas tends to ring hollow for me due to this lack of sensation. I’m able to cover significant ground, but not so much that I miss the important things.
Frequently I’ll have only a half hour to devote to my run before dinner, so my most common journey of late has been to this bench that I love. I prefer a lonely run through the woods, but have grown to appreciate this easy jaunt while the snow slowly recedes from our forests. I have made this run four times in the last week, and have discovered new things each time.
One day, for instance, Tischer Creek started really running for the first time as melt-water flowed above the still-existent ice. It wasn’t the big spring runoff, but it was the first unrestrained running of the river. What an unexpected joy this was, as most surprises are. I’m not looking for anything specifically, but I travel through the familiar terrain with a watchful eye ready to observe anything new.
A week prior to this I had declared the start of the running season, and put away my cross-country skis. That very same warm sunny spring day I saw the famous black bear come out of hibernation, and watched it bask in the sun or continue to sleep outside for the next 6 days. The bear appeared to have far more fat stores remaining after such a long nap than I would have thought possible. Its coat was surprisingly plush, and was as dark and lustrous as on any black lab. It looked like a model as far as bears go, and fit for a postcard.
I’ve grown to appreciate the new discoveries I observe on my route each day. I relish the view from the bench the most, though. I have been watching the changing ice conditions on Lake Superior from that spot off-and-on throughout winter and early spring. We had what appeared to be a stable icepack there a couple weeks ago. The ice stretched beyond the horizon to a distance of around 20-30 miles. Ice on this inland sea, however, doesn’t behave the way it does on smaller lakes (as in every other lake on the planet). It changes every day, moves, shifts, groans and creaks, and can produce some fantastic creations.
Anyhow, not all that ice melted. Strong winds from the south blew only-God-knows-how-many tons of it straight out into the lake, so now we have beautiful blue open water again. Previously this entire view was entirely that of ice, and it all disappeared in a single day. Amazing. Some years, strong northeast winds will blow it all right back.
I cherish being there regularly to see the changes as they take place. With only a half hour to devote to my running addiction, I think this is a good use of time. I think everyone should find a place they love and commit to knowing it, and knowing it well. See the changes as they occur and rejoice in them. There are always new things to discover every day.
Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Visit his blog at: eddygilmore.areavoices. com. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.