Pushing a baby stroller carrying my restless two-year-old son, Benjamin, was the beginning of my relationship with Pease Park. The purpose of these walks ended when he rejected the stroller, wasn’t interested in just walking.
Unknown to me Pease Park with its different walkers, joggers, runners and dogs had hooked me. You didn’t enter the park, it welcomed you – familiar path, trees played their familiar reframe of leafing, small leaves with the lightest of light green and turning to larger, dark green for the summer and then going naked – no more shade.
And persons you didn’t see in any other part of your life became Pease Park friends exchanging first names, the names of their dogs; one woman’s daughter was going to the same college my son attended, another is finishing her master’s degree, another walks her eleven dogs – all off leash.
Each day I marked off years in the company of our dogs:
Desert - an Australian Cattle dog, the color of sand, strong, stood his ground – some said he was aggressive.
Blue – an Australian Sheep dog, most of his body marked by strands of black and white but his face split with one brown eye surrounded by an island of black, and the other brown eye and chest held in a pool of pure white.
Oso – an Australian Sheep dog, black legs, torso covered with shaded black and white until you get to his chest and front legs – pure white; his head split from nose to forehead by a streak of white and on each side one blue eye and one brown eye shine out of perfect patterns of black and white; eyebrows and cheeks tan. His ears stand alert pinned back as he runs.
Training for the Cap 10,000 was easy, almost unconscious; in those early years, a youthful and middle-age body supported by walking and jogging a couple of weeks before the race allowed me to finish the race within an hour. An army unit of about 25 uniformed soldiers jogging to the cadence of one, two, three, four next to a man wearing a ballet tutu are just a few memories.
Diversity of Bodies and Spirits
For reasons that escape me now, I didn’t participate in the Cap 10,000 for a couple of decades, but much more than memories it’s the experience that draws me back to the Cap 10,000’s 42nd event in which 25,000 children, women and men will run, jog and walk the 6.2 miles. Each individual tuned into his or her body struggling a little more in the uphill portion, grabbing water and looking for the downhill side to make up a little time – each person supporting the other, the early finishers coming back on the sideline clapping to support those looking for the finish line, each person being supported by the sidewalks full of individuals waiting to see a friend or loved one giving them a shout out.
Training. The past meets the now. Replaying in my mind and humming Pete Seeger’s ballad sung by Judy Collins and The Byrds lovingly connects my “past” and “now” with the simple word “turn.”
“To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”
As my seasons turn, turn, turn
A time to honor. Honor, yes celebrate my body now, not my body as less than an earlier time, not my body measured in minutes to cover the distance.
A time to accommodate. Accommodate, see, feel and think in ways that fuels my creative spirit, restless body, and loving person.
A time to train: Saturday and Sunday 1.3 miles, my usual walk; Monday and Tuesday 2.6 miles, Wednesday and Thursday 3.9 miles right arm catching my left wrist behind my waist – back straight, shoulders back, head higher, Friday lapping my familiar Pease Park trail, 5.2 miles. Repeat!
Fickle nature’s rain, lighting and thunder cancelled the Cap 10,000. Nothing stops time - tomorrow I begin my 8th decade. See you in Pease Park.