A spot of magic in the woods

While I was away, two artists created a magical sculpture in the woods of Umstead State Park. It won’t come as any surprise to regular visitors to the blog that this place would be at the top of my must-see list when I came home.

So on a beautiful day, when the new leaves on the trees sparkled silver green, my dog and I journeyed out to find it.

Green beauty along the trail

I could see it from a distance, this fallen tree transformed into art. Continue reading

Spring’s welcome home

There’s nothing quite like spring in the south. It can be all too brief, especially this year with winter making several unwelcome reappearances, but I’m thrilled to be back here to see spring happening.

Several weeks ago, a Kwanzan (or Kanzan) cherry tree in our yard burst forth in beautiful pink blossoms, and though leaves have already taken the place of the blooms, I’m happy to have been back in time for the showy display.

It’s not only human friends who have been welcoming me home. I walk through parks and on trails and along creeks that shimmer with plants I love and missed. Continue reading

Showing up to run in the rain

In last week’s post, I shared a bit about the miserable conditions at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run. This week, I could say the same about Boston on Monday (though I got to watch from the comfort of a warm, dry home). The conditions were miserable, but oh, what an amazing day of running.

Congratulations to Desiree (Des) Linden, the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. She’s proof of what happens when a woman keeps chasing after her dreams, showing up day after day, mile after mile, to make those dreams come true.

Here she is in 2015, wearing her usual look of determination, flying toward Monday’s crowning achievement.

Linden running the 5,000m during the USATF Championships in 2015.

Continue reading

Dear April in North Carolina

Dear April in North Carolina,

Please make up your mind. Winter. Spring. Winter. Pollen. Summer. Spring. Pollen. Winter. Extra thick pollen. Rain. Mud. Blooms. Sleet. Snow. More pollen.

Sincerely,
Me

I was talking with a friend on the phone yesterday. She lives in the mountains and was bemoaning the (seemingly) endless winter there. “I mean, I haven’t even seen a single dandelion yet!” She gasped later on in our conversation when she looked out the window and did in fact spy those yellow flowers poking up from the ground.

I love being back here for spring, but the weather of late has me agreeing more with T.S. Eliot than with Chaucer: April can be the cruelest month. There was definitely more cruelty than sweetness about the pouring rain, plunging temperatures, and wind on Saturday, when a few hundred runners, spectators, and volunteers gathered at Umstead State Park for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run.

Friends and family sheltered by one of the aid stations waiting for their runners to pass by.

The creek flowing under the bridge rose in the pouring rain, covering gravel “islands” and tree stumps that just the day before had poked up over the top of the water.  Continue reading

Road trip across America: A stop at Fort Smith

A hard wind buffeted us much of the way across the country as we drove and strengthened again as we left Oklahoma and entered Arkansas. We stopped at Fort Smith National Historic Site to see the history of the place and to stretch our legs, but the bitter wind cut our visit short.

I wanted to see the Trail of Tears along the river and see the place where “Hanging Judge” Parker presided. While my mom went inside the building, I spent my whole time there outside with the dog, who was very happy for a lengthy walk in the middle of another long day of driving.

The building that held a jail and courtrooms where Judge Parker presided now holds a museum, too.

Arkansas was the first state with a landscape that felt more familiar to me, more like home than the other states we had driven through. Having just come through the part of the country where bleak reservation land dominates everything, I had an even harder time imagining what these tribes faced as they journeyed from their homes in the east to harsh, unfamiliar land. I was journeying home but looking out at a place of sadness for those who would never see home again.

Overlooking the Trail of Tears at the confluence of the Arkansas River (right) and the Poteau river (left)

In a place of historic battles, the only turmoil on the day of our visit (besides the wind) was the point where the two rivers meet.

This is the last installment of our trip across the country here on the blog, though we would have another day and a half of driving after leaving Arkansas.

We crossed the Mississippi River in the dark, got lost the next day trying to find a state park in Tennessee (Cummins Falls State Park) that would have been our one long stop for the day, and then drove across into North Carolina. Ah, home.

Home is where my thoughts and heart have turned, and so starting next week, the blog will turn toward North Carolina and what it means to be home for this weary traveler.