On the Trail: An Ode to Old Shoes

Fare thee well, old running and hiking shoes,

companion for oh, about 15 moons.

Time has run out on thee, though I am fond of you,

like the day I first spied thee in thine box.

 

Do not be angry upon me my Italian Wildcats

You have served me well, o’er hill and dale

La Sportiva Wildcat

La Sportiva Wildcat

and along the Escarpment Trail.

And through puddles and snow, and in day and in night.

 

But you show your wear, though thee be but one year and some months old.

Your midsole is full of lines, creases, that cannot be ignored.

It is beaten down, and you feel hard beneath my soft feet.

Though, to be kind,  overall you still look so youthful.

 

But oh thy tread, thy tread, it is too worn, flattened smooth in areas

And gives me great fear on slick wet rock or damp tree roots

lest I go glissading, skittering into the air,

only to land and break a vital bone or tear a sinew.

 

We have indeed had joyous times,

running here, walking there

or sitting in quiet contemplation. But time moves on

And moreover, my fickle self also seeks a lighter model with a lower heel.

 

Lest you think me cruel, I will not totally abandon you.

Nay, I shall not drop you in the Salvation Army donation box

Or, send you to Soles 4 Souls, though that be wise and kind and useful

No, I will keep you in my closet, to don once a fortnight or so to run an errant errand.

(Until such time as I will decide to donate you at last.)

 

And no Wildcats, I will not make you meet your heir to my feet.

La Sportiva Helios

La Sportiva Helios

But know they too hail from your same Italian villa, and, probably are a close cousin,

But a full year younger, and lighter, and, oh, their tread, it is just fine.

No, Wildcats, you need not meet Helios now.

 

Rather, you will meet them in the closet, in, oh, about a year or so.

 

 

H.F.

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On the Trail: Great Blue and You

Great Blue Heron, by Marie Read, allaboutbirds.org

Great Blue Heron, by Marie Read, allaboutbirds.org

Twenty minutes watching a great blue heron from fifteen feet away can teach you a few things.

I sideled up  to the waters edge of Overpeck Creek recently after running in the large urban park, to see what I would see. Usually not much. A distant cormorant or a snowy egret on the far side in the phragmites. But this morning would be one I would remember. A great blue heron stood motionless on the kayak dock just a few feet off shore. Completely motionless. Statuesque. Immaculately attired actually.

And there it stood. I  sat on a nearby granite rock and noted the time. It did not move, fixed in its gaze toward the water. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Than in balletic form it turned 180 degrees. And again stood still, now gazing at the water in the opposite direction. Another five minutes. No movement, until slowly the heron stepped off the dock and into the water, clearly a more strategic position. It lowered its head to within inches of the water, than looked up and moved away,  crouching under the sloped gangplank of the dock, compressing its neck into a perfect S shape, its dagger like beak pointed, poised, primed to strike.

Then in one explosive action the bird uncoiled its neck, and in so doing buried its beak full into the water with nary a splash.

Great Blue Heron, by Greg Bishop, flickr.com/photos/gregbishop160/2928315528/

Great Blue Heron, by Greg Bishop, flickr.com/photos/gregbishop160/2928315528/

What happened below the surface, though, remains a mystery for it raised its head high, its beak empty. Had it caught something small and quickly ingested? Whether because of its success or its failure, the great blue than strode away.

I took away some lessons from watching the heron, lessons of patience, perseverance. Lessons of focus, stillness and, that solitude is often essential.

But I also learned that clear, cool autumn morning by the shore of the wide slow moving river that if you plan to survive hunting small aquatic wildlife near the water’s edge, you should arm yourself with a very long, flexible neck and a beak as lethal as a bayonet.

Howard E. Friedman

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