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The season for running, cooking and spying on wildlife.

I’ve been running again. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I announce that I am going running. I put on a running outfit and shoes and I march off in my best sporty strut down the mountain. But really, what I do at the bottom is run along the flat sections of the country road and trudge slowly up the hills. I have to walk down the hills on the other side, because running on downward slopes kills my knees.  I guess I’m not a runner anymore. I’m some kind of meandering, lumbering, partial jogger.


In the paper the other day, I saw an ad for an upcoming 5 K in the town right by our cabin. Only about two miles away.  I got excited. It has been awhile since I was in a race and a short 5K right in my backyard would be an opportunity to meet other runners from the area. (If there are any – Lord, you never see them here the way you do in Florida or Boston. I think most of the racers come from the Atlanta running club – here’s a joke: I’m actually a member. Geez, if I actually actively participated in half the clubs I join I’d be superwoman.)


I thought of signing up for the race, but then, I saw the title and my face fell. It’s called the Morganton Hill Run. Might as well be called the Morganton Death by Incline Run for me. Or the “Let us embarrass you 5K”.  Sure took the wind out of my sails. I’d hate to go and make a fool of myself. But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should sign up. The real fools are the people that stay home and don’t take the opportunity to do something healthy and fun, and grasp the chance to meet others with similar interests. I may have to slip one of those Groucho Marx fake nose and glasses disguises in my pocket so no one will see who I am when I cross the finish line 30 minutes after the conditioned runners have finished, but hey, I might surprise myself. So, today, I’m sending in my registration. Then, I plan to call the race committee and ask where the route is and go give it a drive. I might try running out there once or twice before mid Sept when the race takes place. Just to see how pitiful I really am. I’ll sign up Kent to join me. I am the sort of nurturing mother that enjoys dragging her kids along on torturous escapades, the kind that might take them hours to recoup from. I figure, if he’s running next to me, Kent will look like a seasoned athlete – it will be good for his self-esteem.


Lately, when I run, I’ve been picking flowers on the route home. I figure I’ll be either picking flowers or picking up trash, and one endeavor tends to make me feel joyful and the other makes me cranky. So, the flowers prevail. But pick’ins are slim (and now we know where that cliché came from) because the only wildflowers blooming late in the season here are what I would call “weak” varieties.


 I come home all sweaty with a fist full of flowers and Mark shakes his head and says, “Pretty, but I hate to tell you. . . . the yellow ones will shed all over the table within an hour, the orange ones won’t last even an hour and the white ones might, if you are lucky, last till dinner.” Damn if the Ole Party Pooper isn’t always right. Having a spouse with gardening savvy is a mixed blessing.


Slowly, I’m learning which blooms to bypass altogether. I could skip the entire flower-picking thing, I guess, but I can’t resist dragging them home just to try them out. I figure, if the blooms only last through dinner, they still make a nice centerpiece. I confess, sometimes, I wrestle with guilt over it. I’m learning that flowers are just like animals. The domesticated ones do well captured and brought into your home, but the wild ones can’t survive no matter how hard you try to gently attend to them. They need to remain wild or they die. The idea that I shorten their short existence on earth doesn’t sit well with me.


I have a plan though. I went to the Wildflower Seed and Bulb company on the internet and purchased another bunch of wildflower seeds (for fall) and some bulbs. I will plant them erratically around the land, toss them here and there. Then I’ll have semi-cultured flowers to pick in the wild. They say you can’t fool mother nature. Ha. Doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try.


While at the land yesterday, two huge pheasants crossed the road. Neva spotted them first and shouted, “We have turkeys!”

I explained that they were actually pheasants – a male and female, or so it looked. We stopped the car so we wouldn’t scare them away, then climbed on the hood to watch them go all the way up the mountain through the trees towards Mark’s workshop. I have to admit, I was out of my mind excited. This discovery proves that pheasants will survive on our land (and now I can raise them) and in fact, we already have some. Our alleged bear doesn’t eat everything that has fur or feathers. Cool beans!


I don’t know it if was a coincidence that I saw the pheasants the same month I saw one at our cabin or not. Perhaps these birds are seasonal and start wandering out and about this time of year. I do know I associate pheasants with fall, but I don’t know why. I’m thinking it may be their autumn coloring that makes them a common image used in fall decorating, or the fact that the pilgrims ate them or something and there are lots of pheasant recipes in my cooking magazines along with turkey recipes. Or maybe, we are coming upon a pheasant shooting season (no doubt – they have a season for shooting everything here, except the damn hunters, who deserve to get an ass full of buckshot.) Whatever – suddenly, pheasants abound! They are remarkable looking. I hope the two we saw are busy procreating so I will see baby pheasants one day. I will need to read up on the species to find out when, where, and how they lay eggs and some details about their habits. I want to become a pheasant aficionado. Yessirree.


Speaking of seasons, I have decided that perhaps God, in his ultimate wisdom, knew what he was doing when he gave everything a season. Especially blueberries. I was sad to see the blackberries fade, but I am going to welcome the end of blueberry season in a few weeks. I am making yet another batch of blueberry jam this morning to take care of the serious backload of blueberries jamming up my fridge. What else is a girl to do? I can’t stop picking them, and Mark is dieting so I can’t, in all fairness, make any more blueberry desserts. We’ve eaten so many healthy blueberry bran muffins we could bust, and my freezer is full of raw blueberries for winter cooking. So, I am back to making more jam . Sigh. I have another ten jars sitting on the counter with a “do not touch” sign on them today. Tomorrow they can join the other 20 jars in my cupboard.  At least my fridge has room for a gallon of milk now. Yippee.


It will be apple season in two weeks. We don’t have any apple trees of our own (yet) but there is an orchid nearby where we go to pick bushels. I love how cheap apples are in Sept. because I can buy a big basket of them for a song. I do this for the horses. The cool temperatures in Sept. mean the apples won’t rot in the big plastic trunk outside that I put them in, so everyday, when I go feed the horses, I have fresh apples for treats. All summer, the horses were only given carrots because I’m a big cheapskate who won’t pay a dollar an apple to feed a horse – especially considering I have five mouths to feed (donkey counts, ya know, in fact, I usually sneak him two treats ’cause he is my favorite.)


Hopefully, Mark’s diet will take a break in Sept. because for all that I can resist making blueberry desserts, I think it is highly cruel to expect me to avoid making apple desserts. Skipping the wealth of apple pies, cakes and sauté recipes in fall would be damn unnatural, if you ask me. Besides, apple escapades are my warm-up for all those pumpkin dishes to come.


Enough meaningless talk. I have to get to my homework.



About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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