About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

Sharing the road

This past Saturday, friends of ours ran a marathon in the mountains. My husband—complete with cow bell and safety vest—volunteered to direct runners (and traffic) at one of the turns in the race. I was in full spectator mode and watched the race from three different spots along the course.

Not all of what I saw thrilled me: for one, the driver of the SUV who blew past my husband and sped toward runners who were in the process of crossing the road to make a turn in the course.

While many races close their courses to vehicular traffic, this particular race does not. It begins on a track and ends on another track, but in between, on curvy mountain roads, there are few places where vehicles aren’t allowed. Signs alert drivers to be aware of runners on the road. And many drivers are more cautious, move over to give runners room, and/or drive slower as they pass the runners. There are a few, though, who don’t give a rip.

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The marathon course includes parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and because it cannot be closed during the race, park rangers step up patrols along the part where runners will be. Volunteers at the turns remind runners to run facing traffic, and for the most part, the runners heed these instructions. But there are some places along the course where the runners have to cross over, dodging cars that could be coming from either direction.

The SUV driver was coming from a direction where she would not yet have encountered runners in the road, but she would have passed caution signs warning of runners ahead. She had not been inconvenienced on her route up until the point where my husband stood in the middle of the road. She would have had to slow down for just four miles (a place where the speed limit is between 35 and 45 anyway), not an onerous amount of time to spend being decent to other human beings. She chose not to be inconvenienced, though. Who cared if these runners were tired? Who cared if they were in a zone and not as alert to their surroundings as they might usually be? Who cared if a car zipped by them too closely and too quickly? She clearly didn’t care.

As drivers, we may find it easy to ignore the fact that actual, live human beings are driving and riding in the cars around us. It’s too easy to dehumanize the other drivers around us. And I’m beginning to wonder if the same isn’t happening with some drivers’ (lack of) regard for cyclists and runners.

Other “objects” out on the road are simply obstacles to be dodged, like some great big real-world video game. Except that they’re not just objects, and you can’t earn more points by getting through the course faster or more recklessly. They’re humans. And the ones who aren’t in cars are more vulnerable.

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When my friend saw this picture, he told me he had no recollection of running by a tractor. The tractor driver was courteous and safe and, therefore, deserving of a gold star.

Running has changed the way I drive and the way I perceive others out on the road, especially runners and cyclists. I have experienced moments in my running when I was so tired I knew I had to be extra careful with traffic. My mental reaction time had slowed because my brain was so focused on the running. When I’m running, my rule is this: never assume the driver sees me. And now when I’m driving: never assume the runner sees me.

Humans have a great capacity for kindness. We have an equally great capacity for being jerks. I’ve seen runners stop during a race to help a fallen runner. I’ve seen runners treat other runners rudely in the way they hog a trail or cut others off at a turn. I’ve seen cyclists stop to let runners pass safely through an intersection, and I’ve seen cyclists completely ignore runners, cars, other cyclists and stop signs so they won’t have to slow down.

We’re free to drive/cycle/run recklessly, but we’re also free to drive/cycle/run considerately (and only one of those deserves a ticket from the park ranger). We’re free to be kind, or we’re free to be insensitive. It’s up to each individual. I just wish more would choose the path of kindness and common decency. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.

 

Gone fishin’

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I hope y’all won’t mind me taking a vacation day today. I’ll be back next week after some much-needed recharging of the batteries.

I haven’t literally gone fishin’. I went fishing once with my dad when I was little, and despite enjoying the boat ride and the time with him, I didn’t care much for hooking the bait or watching the fish writhe at the end of the hook. My husband also reminded me that I couldn’t literally go fishin’ because I don’t have a fishing license.

So I’ve gone fishin’ figuratively. What are the ways you go fishin’ when you need to unwind and recharge?

Star-struck

“USA! USA! USA!” Those chants filled my TV yesterday, as I watched the US team succumb to Belgium in the World Cup round of death. I’ve never been a soccer fan (can’t quite call it football yet), but for some reason, this year, I watched as many of USA’s matches as I could. Maybe it was because of the hilarious commentary from Men in Blazers—a British duo that made me laugh and comprehend and hope for a long Team USA run in this World Cup. They seemed more patriotic about American football than most Americans I know. They made me crave cupcakes, too. (Fortunately, I haven’t caved to that craving yet, as I’m still trying to shed pounds from that cheese-laden trip to Vermont.)

But y’all know by now that soccer isn’t likely to replace my favorite sport: track and field. My husband and I journeyed to Sacramento this past weekend to see the US Track and Field National Championships. This is considered an off year because there are no Olympics or World Championships later in the season. It’s the only year in a four-year cycle that this happens. Nonetheless, we enjoyed attending this championship meet.

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The women’s 10,000 meter race. Kim Conley (in the coral shorts, hip 17) won the race.

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The men’s 5,000 meters. Bernard Lagat (hip 8, 4th from right) went on to win the race.

Some of the races are harder to cheer for than others. I mean, how do you cheer for one runner when there are three or four you’d love to see win? The men’s 5,000 was like that for me Friday night. If we had stayed for the men’s 1500, that race would have been even harder for me to pick who to cheer for.

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Summer in the south

Though summer weather has been around for at least a month, the official start of summer arrived on Saturday with the solstice. On Saturday, I read a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, one especially fitting—and lovely—and I wanted to share it with you here:

Summer in the South

The oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.

Orioles don’t hang around where I live, but there are plenty of beautiful birds that do spend their summers here. I saw a goldfinch perched on the butterfly bush on Saturday, but alas, without camera in hand, I don’t have an image of it to share with you here. I will share photos of the flowers that were blooming this solstice day.

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Sugar trees

On our recent trip to New England, my husband and I ventured into Vermont with the promise of cheese trails to rival California’s wine trails, maple syrup concoctions, and a few quiet, unhurried days to unwind.

Vermont is a lovely place in late spring (even though it felt like full-on summer when we were there). We drove among rolling hills, lush and green from trees leafed out. We saw signs at small country stores for maple cremees, and our southern brains scrambled for a moment to decipher the term. My husband’s guess was right: something akin to soft-serve ice cream.

We took a morning drive out to a working farm, Sugarbush Farm. The scenery along the way was stunning, and even without the reward of the farm at the end, the drive was worth making. The farm was filled with friendly staff, the aroma of cheese smoking in the smoke house, and lots of talk and explanation of maple syrup. We sampled cheese and syrup when we first arrived and then walked around the farm a bit before heading back in to buy a few food souvenirs. Continue reading