Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


Where a Peony Was – Return to City Life

The peony down the street

While away, the thing I missed most was our garden.  The peony buds were coming along nicely and I hoped not to miss any of their divine showiness. One peony bud in particular was on my mind.  Nearly three years ago, I was sitting in a favourite spot in Mt. Pleasant cemetery close to the double bed of commemorative peonies that supposedly have one of every type of peony grown in Canada.  The gardener was pruning the post-bloom garden and we struck up a conversation.  He then gave me 14-15 peony roots and told me to plant them.

I rushed back to work and put them in water and a few days later planted all fourteen in my garden.  Nothing green poked through the earth that year.  But the following spring, leaves showed up on three cuttings.  Last year, a bit more foliage grew on two of them and this year many more leaves grew on a single stem.  The only survivor.  To my amazement a bud started to form and I was certain that it would blossom.  My curiousity about what type of peony would emerge was blooming,  and then we left town.

Many mornings in spring and summer I begin my day by checking out our front and back garden with coffee in hand.  My first morning back, I did this and was shocked to discover the mystery peony bud was gone.  I can only guess that it had blossomed and someone stole it as there was a definite jagged, ripped look to the top of the main stem.  Sad to say flowers from our garden are often picked but never did I feel so sad as this time.  Could the thief ever have any idea of how long I had been waiting to see this particular flower. What a sad comment on life in the city coinciding with my return to Toronto.

I console myself by saying that the loss of the flower will create a stronger plant for next year, with more flowers because of the energy saved by this years flowerlessness. Sniff . . .

Above is a photo of a peony on our block that made my heart melt with its beauty.  This photo is my current BlackBerry screensaver.

As for the return to running, I had a better-than-expected outing.  My goal was to run for two hours and I was expecting it to be a bit of a slog as I have gone under my forty-mile-week minimum goal several times in the last six weeks.  The cooler temperature, overcast sky and slightly slower pace to accommodate an injured run mate’s injury made for a very comfortable 13+ mile run with energy to spare.

Men planking at St. Clair & Avenue Road

As we waited at Avenue Road and St. Clair for J, R decided to plank.  Later on at a water fountain stop, R & J decided to plank.  I limited myself to assessing the planking form of my running mates as I find planks difficult and did not want to run with sore abdominals.  I recently learned that planking has branched out into plankstering in unusual places.  Apparently a plankster died while planking on a moving car.  My husband’s intention was not to plankster when he did his on a ferry in Alaska.

Man planking in his boots on Alaskan ferry

A plank a day keeps a backache away. It is a very effective abdominal exercise. Gotta get back to it!  Reverting to the topic of peonies, while my all-male running mates enjoy gardening (we toured each others gardens last year) they tell me that real men don’t like peonies. Hmm . . .

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Sleepy in Seattle

Rhododendren House in Portland, Oregon

Yes, we have a stopover at the Seattle airport, enroute to Juneau and are a little weary although the day got off to an energetic start. Shortly after rising I left for the the first leg of my run. The flat river route seems to be the preferred route for the Portlanese. One side is eclipsed by the closeness of the highway to the river but a path has been created a little offshore to offset this abomination of urban planning.

Off shore running path

I ran 4Km solo, returning to the hotel to pick up my husband for the second leg, a much hillier route up by Washington park. Talking about “real estate”, the view and vegetation was magnifico, well worth the huffing and puffing to climb the steep hillside terrain.  The photo below may bear some resemblance to the Glen Road bridge in Rosedale, Toronto however that is due to the shortcomings of my camera.  By comparison, the depth of colour and density of the foliage in Portland makes even the most treed areas of Toronto look wanting

Running up that hill!

The greens surpassed those of Ireland in the fall although I’ve yet to experience an Irish spring.  Where there is greeness, there is rain and lots of moss. Check out the concrete benches lining the sidewalks of this older section of town.

Moss park bench

The properties are so gorgeous that it seems owners feel compelled to name them. Thus, you have The Rhododendron House, which incidentally was for sale.

A bit of rest after a hard climb

Gamely, my husband agreed to run with me for this third day straight. With his knee trouble it has been avoiding running consecutive days but he says his knee is “okay”.

House on the hill

The most risky aspect of this run, knee-wise was the steep return downhill. I advised him to walk down the steepest sections. Hopefully, this tourist-trotting won’t aggravate his tender meniscus as we are heading up to “rave run” territory and our shared runs are always a highlight of any vacation.

Run for the view

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Don’t stop moving!

In actuality the idea that the pace of my life has slowed is an illusion.   I am now facing an extremely long list of things to do which I call the post-gala list and that does not include all the post-event follow-up, financials and on and on.

Mixed in with high season for gardening, I’m feeling swamped again.  One item that needs to get moved to top three status for the spring and summer is house repair and painting.  At the moment the top three for the month are training for the NYC marathon, garden work and home maintenance including cleaning.

Bleeding Hearts . . . exquisite!

I’m planning to run 3-5 miles but number one task is to plant the Mountain Bluets that were given to me by a neighbour.  They are not that readily available in Toronto garden stores but are long-blooming and tolerate shade nicely.  Our neighbour has the most lovely garden and I learned a lot about gardening from seeing it.  He offered to pick up some dahlia bulbs for us at St. Lawrence Market.

A beautiful gift from a neighbour.

Better get planting . . . have a wonderful day.

Forget-me-not running rampant, but still loved.

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The Glory of Mornings

It has been a real treat to be able to focus on my runs first, rather than preparations for the gala.  Although, I am giving myself a mental break from pushing hard in any area by skipping speedwork at the track.  Of course, all things taste sweet with the satisfaction of having reached my personal goal of organizing a fundraising gala.

Yesterday we got stuck in a traffic jam in High Park.  The park was packed with a predominantly Asian crowd out to see and photograph cherry blossoms.   We let my son out and then skedaddled out of there as nary a parking spot was to be found.  My son had tales to tell of uncivil interactions earlier in the weekend between frustrated motorists seeking parking spots.

The glory of morning

How civilized to view the blooms at 7:30 a.m. with a sprinkling of people about.  And, what a way to start the day.  I was one of four people photographing the stars of the park, at 7:30 a.m.  My run for the morning was about 5 miles.

Later in the morning I cycled to the CIBC building on King street for a work-related meeting and was witness to another Toronto wonder.  Though this sight was of the gilded variety.  I had no idea that the old Bank of Commerce Building at 25 King Street West had an ornate, solid gold ceiling.  It was once the tallest building in Toronto.

Man-made Toronto wonder

I had another errand in the neighbourhood and had planned to stop at St. Lawrence Market to pick up some morning glory seeds.  I have a favourite colour for morning glories, a pale blue variety called Ismay which I have only been able to find at St. Lawrence Market.  Sadly, I discovered that I had left all my money and credit card in my running jacket pocket and was wandering around the downtown core, without a cent.  Very disappointing.

The majority of my time over the weekend was spent on tending our garden.  If gardening had the same health benefits as running, it would be the clear winner on my list of favourite activities.  Glory, glory alleluia!

Not just me taking photos at 7:30 a.m.