wild walk


October 11 was the thirty-fifth anniversary of our first date. “Did you think you’d marry him?” our daughter asked. No, not yet. We were shy and unsure, immature teenagers with hardly a thought beyond next week. It must have been fate.

On Sunday, I was getting ready for church, waiting for mister Ollie sweetums to arrive, when I got a text from the Hubs, who was at work. What would I like to do to celebrate? He’d be done around noon. The Wild Walk, a new feature at the Wild Center, has been on my list for months. It was closing for the season in a few days so that settled that: we’d go ‘splorin.

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After church, lunch, and barn-boys play time, we took Ollie home and headed south toward the Adirondack Park. Fall foliage was at (late?) peak, a rich tapestry of red, orange and gold hues woven into the evergreen forest. A brilliant blue sky laced with whispy cirrus clouds and distant mountain peaks capped the view. I’d brought my knitting along but decided better of it — spectacular!

The Wild Center is a natural history museum and Adirondack treasure. There are interactive wildlife exhibits, historical exhibits and multimedia explorations of our natural world. Inside are lots of fish and other critters in residence but a family of playful otters always wins the crowd. Outside are miles of trails and ponds to explore. You won’t want to miss it if you visit the area.

The newest attraction, the Wild Walk, is quite something. A series of elevated trails and suspension bridges lead to a great view and perfect perch, in the form of a huge birds nest set 3 stories above ground level. Along the way are interactive exhibits and play areas. The trail branches off at one point to take you inside and down the center of a huge hollow white pine tree, a four-story snag. Coolness.

The Wild Center was super busy on Sunday — if they didn’t set an attendance record then they must have come close. It was fun to be there midst wee ones, old ones, every age and ability enjoying themselves. It was nice to have some quiet time together, between the drive there and back and our walk in the sunshine. Who could have known that an awkward CYO dance in St Mary’s gym in the fall of 1980 might lead to this wild walk we’ve enjoyed — 35 years and counting?

~ René Morley


long walk

IMG_0256Last Saturday I completed a goal set last spring: to walk a half-marathon. I did it mostly for the discipline imposed over 14 or 15 weeks of training. I enjoy the experience on race day, on a beautiful route in a supportive community. But I’m always slightly embarrassed to be walking in the midst of the runners.

This is the fourth half-marathon I’ve walked in the past few years and the second in Lake Placid, the most historic of beautiful Adirondack venues. When I mention my self-imposed challenge to friends or co-workers, they assume I’m running. I feel compelled to clarify, almost apologize. “I’m just walking.”

Not long ago, a long distance runner and colleague gave me new perspective. When she heard that I was walking a half, she congratulated me and said, “I think walking is harder than running.” Huh?

She and her husband are both amazing athletes. They run up and down grueling mountain trails or in oppressive dessert heat, wallowing in mud puddles to stay cool enough to continue 80 or 100 miles. When her husband is competing she will run alongside in the dead of night for awhile to pace him. When the going gets tough and his body is begging him to stop, his mantra is “Keep running. The only thing worse than running is walking.” No doubt because it’s only going to take you longer to finish!

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Sharon and I began our preparation in late May, training separately during the week while gradually increasing distance on weekend walks together. We’d start by 7:00, sometimes 6:00 a.m., to go the distance — up to 10 miles. Lately, it’s been near dark when we met up on the trail. As summer winds down to fall and daylight hours shorten, it’s harder and harder to rise extra-early on Saturday.

In mid-July I also began working with a personal trainer. My birthday present to myself was 6 months with Carrie and 12 months of gym membership. I’m surprised to find that I’m enjoying the gym, with Carrie’s support. I’m glad to put event training behind me and focus there. I guess I like best to compete against myself. But first, there was a long walk. We were ready!

We enjoyed a lovely evening in Lake Placid, followed by a beautiful sunrise. It was a chilly forty-some degrees; the mist hung heavy over Mirror Lake as the sun climbed over the mountains. Starting at the 1932 Olympic oval, we walked uphill and down, around the lake and through town, alongside mountain streams and rivers, past horse barns and vegetable farms, under the watchful gaze of the 1980 Olympic ski jumps and ever-present old mountains.

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We even jogged a couple stretches, letting the momentum of the long hills carry us down, praying we’d have the strength to climb back up. We were particularly motivated by a group of noisy French Canadians in pink tutus. We followed closely for awhile before they pulled out in front. For perhaps half the race, we trailed them, scheming of a victory. We made our move to pass in a slow but stealth jog on a fairly crowded stretch, blending in with the running pack. Boo-yah! They never caught up. ;=)

It was a wonderful experience although a rather long 13.1 miles. I was ever so thankful to have a partner for the journey. I’m proud that we finished the race on our intended pace and that we didn’t finish in last place. Sometimes our victories are small and very personal but still they are important.

~ René Morley

steadfast love

Well, yes. What a wonderful celebration of my eldest son’s marriage! It was a picture-perfect and poignant weekend, from beginning to end. If you were present, I know you know this. And if you were not, I know you’re just dying for details! So, then, here are a few… and pictures, too. :=)

Late on Saturday morning we settled into a condo with majestic mountain views in this lovely Adirondack lake town. Mid-afternoon, the wedding party and parents rehearsed with Pastor Z. on the resort lawn, for lack of available venue. Who could complain, with sweeping vistas such as these?

Kudos to the bride and groom for assembling such a stellar wedding party. First class folk, all ’round. And what a hoot — this bride was ridin’ herd! But her sis-in-law proved essential in corralling cats down the “isle” formed by a colorful array of bags and shoes. Resort residents, perched on balconies or parked on the lawn, chirped and chimed in a time or two, clearly enjoying the show. ;=)

The rehearsal dinner was a purposefully casual affair. The mother of the bride graciously welcomed folks to her party. My Mister spoke about “forever” to our son and his bride-to-be. Heartfelt does not describe! I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the house as the sun set. A lovely Havdalah ceremony closed the event but conversations and celebrations continued long into the evening.

Sunday morning started off just right, as far as I was concerned. I treasured time with the groom as we shopped for last-minute breakfast food and he polished up his vows. He started a fire in the fireplace to ease the Adk chill. We welcomed just a few guests to the condo for coffee and bagels, yogurt and local granola, fruit and other goodies.

Then it was sweet sister time: boutique shopping and leisurely lunching. It might have been a lonely weekend otherwise, as the Hubs (and younger son) were swamped by farm work and hustling back-‘n-forth to accommodate this destination wedding. I, more or less peripheral to the Big. Event., would have been weekending alone — if not for my sisters. They made all the difference!

It was a full-to-the-brim kind of day. The best! My cup runneth over.

And then, finally, the Big. Event. Theirs was an interfaith marriage — Christian and Jewish. Many elements of Judaism are familiar, as it is foundational to my faith, but matrimonial traditions were not familiar. The ceremony was a wonderful blend of meaningful customs, carefully explained. I am so proud of how well they pulled it all off.

The bride had painstakingly prepared so many special accoutrements — from table favors to isle runner — for their formal affair. Her chuppah, symbolic of the open walls of their home and parents’ support, was exquisite. The ketubah ceremony with Rabbi M. was nothing less than precious.

The wedding ceremony was just perfect. Pastor Z. spoke to becoming one. The bride vowed to grow and build. The groom vowed to cede and love perfectly. Again, I dare say, not a dry eye remained. Rabbi S. spoke to teamwork. The best man and matron of honor spoke to unlikely paths, finding soul mates, and lasting love. I know that I will remember it forever.

The Hubs and I so very much enjoyed reconnecting with family and friends who made the journey to celebrate with us. What a gift! Thank you. And we became friends and family with so many more. Thank you, too. My only regret is for those not present to share in this holy matrimony. You missed something really special — not to mention a great party that lasted well into the night!

On Monday morning, we were in no hurry to leave this lovely place. My sister, my daughter, my son-in-law, and I ascended the highest mountain in the region, just to see what we could see. It was early enough yet to enjoy solitude — a rare privilege, indeed.

In that moment there was perfect peace. How majestic, these mountains. God is so much more and yet He seemed so near! How steadfast, our heavenly Father’s love. He is faithful through the generations.

Psalm 36:5-9, a Psalm of David

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

When you know, you know.

~René Morley