Return to Competition

My husband and I started running in 2008, I think, as part of our weight loss/get fit idea (in which we lost a combined 200 pounds or so). It was his idea, but we both took to it right away, and that led to trying out the racing world.

Mostly we did 5K’s, although we did some 10K’s, the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia (twice) and a half-marathon (once). I found I was pretty good at running and I consistently won awards in my age group (50-59, me being at the time at the low end of the numbers).

Then, starting in 2012, things happened, and you have probably read about them if you have followed this blog: a fall, injuries to various body parts including my hand, an antibiotic resistant infection, two hand surgeries, four eye surgeries, hearing loss, a broken foot, complications from antibiotics, and so on. Each time, I would recover enough to start back to training but each time a new problem would arise, stopping me.

Nonetheless, I kept running, though not racing, until this last winter. When my husband had his fall at Christmas, 2016, that pretty much scrambled even getting to the gym; the final blow was a month-long giant bad cold in April, 2017.

Well, the point of all of this story is to say that my motto is never give up. I am one stubborn person. Once I got well in May, I decided to make returning to running a priority. But I needed to be realistic.

I am older now, I have some deficits from my various experiences, and I no longer have the motivation to run 6-8 miles a day, never mind if it would even be good for my bones and joints and… But, I think I’ve got some good races still in me; I just have to pick out my goals.

So, I worked out a week-by-week running plan based on walking/running. Started out with 2 minutes walking and 2 minutes running for about 2.5 miles. I am now up to 1 walking/9 running for 4 miles. I plan to keep that rest interval and get myself to 5 miles; then I will work out where I want to go next with it.

So far so good. I focus on persevering and not so much on speed (though I can’t help it, just a little). I want to stay injury-free and enjoy myself. But – I do like competition. That brings me to the subject of this post.


About seven or so years ago, we participated in a July 4 5K held at Norristown Farm Park (look here  and here for other events, such as orienteering, I’ve recently done in this park and its locality). I’ll tell you right now I won an award and did the course in 25 minutes something. And the course is a hard one – hilly, exposed to the sun, requiring endurance and speed.

This photo is from the Senior Games at Norristown Farm Park, not this race, but you get the idea.

Well, I got to thinking about that race last week, and I said, let’s look it up and see…Now, I had no business trying a 5K, not having run 3.1 miles straight in four years or so. So…

 

We arrived at the race site a little before 8 AM today, July 4. I had some stage fright about the whole thing. My husband is not able to run yet, so he took all the pictures.

I picked up my number, my swag bag, and my race T-shirt (I so love a 5K t-shirt!). Here are some attempts at an official race portrait.

Let’s try an action shot.

Remember that cheerful expression and compare it to the actual race photos later on. All right. The race starts at the entrance of Norristown High School, crosses into the park, makes a big square, and finishes right in front of the school. My first goal was to run the whole way, no walking.

And, I was hoping to do 33-35 minutes and I felt it would take every bit of pacing I had in me to make it work. I lined up at the back of the crowd (the first place finishers do about 16 minutes, for some perspective, so I needed to hang back, oh, yes).

The weather was about 75 degrees at 8:30 AM and very humid. Another reason to pace myself.

OK, we started the race to the sound of a police car siren. I’m the lady with the orange arrow chasing her.

No pictures from inside the race. I needed all my strength to run! We started off bunched up and then I got some space around me. My past experience told me that quite a few people would start off fast and fade, and that is what happened here. I was able to pass people all through the first part of the race, a little at a time. That’s how I used to run these things, I thought, feeling pretty good.

Everything held together until about the 2.5 mile mark. Then I started to feel it. In the past I had had the resources to speed up at the end. Today, I was measuring out the last little bits of energy. I crossed out of the park and across the street into the high school’s entrance. Only a few hundred yards to go, shouted the policeman holding back traffic for me.

Now I reappear on the radar. The orange arrow is back to highlight me.

I make it up that last hill and around the curve. The orange cones are what I am looking for.

It seems to me that inspirational music ought to be playing as I come to the finish, with crowd shots of cheering people, maybe with tears in their eyes. But then, it would not be real; it would be a television movie. I would not be running along and feeling very bad about now.

In real life, I heard my husband cheering for me; that was plenty good enough. I keep going and I get to the orange cones.

I keep going. By the way, I am wearing a brand-new pair of running shoes and they did themselves proud.

I’m going to finish this race, it looks like.

Well, a few years back I would not have believed I could run so slowly. Or be so happy about it! I was right. I needed a lot more training. I was not ready for this race. I had no business doing it. And, I’m really happy that I didn’t listen to any of that nonsense, because look! I did it!

Orienteering and Doing It Somewhere You Might Not Expect

Last week on June 14 my husband and I participated in an orienteering event. I’m going to tell you all about it. But first, I’ll talk a little about the sport of orienteering.

Basically, orienteering is following a course from point to point using a map and a compass. You progress through the points in order and check in with an electronic device at the marker at each location. It’s a competition, with the fastest person winning, but winning is also relative.

For one thing, at events, there are different courses set up over the same ground with varying difficulty levels. So there’s a “fastest person” in several categories. And then there is the idea of the personal challenge – getting around the course at all (my goal), figuring out how to manage obstacles, completing the course in the most efficient manner…all these things are achievements. Last, the pleasure of being outside, in the woods or meadows, and the fun of climbing or scrambling around or running on trails…that’s maybe the best part of all.

We belong to the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association and we are rank amateurs, having started last year and done maybe ten events. But we really enjoy it and I can’t say enough about how friendly, helpful, and encouraging the group has been to us.

Anyway, I participated in the orienteering event in the recent Senior Games. And I’ll take this moment for an aside: my photo appeared on the cover of the 2017 brochure from my 2016 performance – I am in the upper left corner wearing the pink sweatshirt.

Anyway, while there, I learned about a Wednesday night series the DVOA was doing this summer. The idea was to go to a different location each week, offer two courses at beginner levels, and shoot for an event lasting about 2 hours at most. It sounded like a great way for me to improve my skills. My husband’s participation is dependent on the course; he is still recovering from his fall and rough terrain is not good for him.

A couple of weeks ago, we did the event at the Schuylkill Nature Center – two courses in a traditional wooded trail setting. I did both courses and my husband cheered me on. But then – we realized there was one coming up we both could do. And it was something unusual for the club as well – the location was the grounds of the Norristown State Hospital.

One of the buildings still in use. The grounds are open and green with trees and lawns and plenty of space.

This facility is a mental hospital, founded about 140 years ago, a large campus located about 30 minutes from our house. The Norristown Farm Park, immediately adjacent to it, and where I did orienteering in the Senior Games, is now a county park. It was originally the farm attached to the hospital, where patients worked in fields, a fish hatchery, and with livestock, as was common practice in the past.

The hospital now is almost entirely closed down. There are still some patients who live there; some of it is used for day programs; and there is a heavily guarded forensic section (we did not go near this part of the facility). The remaining residential patients are transitioning out. Most buildings on the campus are closed and some are being torn down.

 

 

All this means for our orienteering experience is that acres of landscaped grounds with an array of buildings are there, waiting for the challenge. And, since it is a “tame” landscape, nicely mowed, my husband could participate.

OK. We arrived at about 6 PM and got ourselves set up. I planned to do course #2 first and he took course #1. We clicked the start and got our maps.

 

 

The control points are numbered and straight lines connect them (not that you should follow those lines, indeed. It’s harder than that). There is also a key to the locations’ exact positions once you arrive in the general area – I use the one written out rather than the one done in symbols.

 

You are looking for these markers. When you find the one you want, you insert your clicker into it to register your arrival.

 

 

I won’t go into the details of my two sessions – just a an overview of things. And while I talk, I’ll show you pictures of the grounds as I go along. (I took them after the event, not while I was running.)

Keep in mind that unless I say differently, every one of these buildings is closed and mothballed, no longer in use.

First of all, you need to understand that I am a good runner, pretty fast and with endurance. Number two, I am terrible at relating the map to the actual landscape. Just terrible. My technique is sort of like water circling the drain – I get close, I go around and around, I run back and forth, and I finally come in to the control point with a big flourish and an internal sigh of relief.

 

I ran over these stairs several times on my way to control points. They traverse a semi-sunken passageway between buildings in the older section.

I also have a tendency to miss the plain and simple things the map is shouting at me and so I often end up very perplexed; when I review the situation suddenly it is clear, and I would have sworn the map had changed, in my hand. This tendency leads me to explore a lot of places I didn’t have to on my way to the control points.

 

I did have a nice talk with two workers on a break who wondered what we were doing. I stopped for a couple of minutes to show them the map and they helped me by pointing out the control point I was looking for behind a hedge. Remember, they knew nothing of orienteering before I came along, but they could read a map…

 

This building is in a newer section – it has an interesting circular auditorium inside the rectangle form of the building, or so it looked, through the windows.

 

But I digress. My husband, on the other hand, though a slower runner than me even at his best, can go directly from point to point. Hits the target every time. It all just flows for him. He was held back by his walking speed on this occasion.

 

Anyway, I finished the course I was on and he was already in. I decided to go out again and do the course he had done, while he rested. I beat his time (I’m running, remember) by about 15 seconds. Well, if you run in circles, this is what is going to happen.

 

I’ve got a better idea now of what I need to do to improve. First of all, I know I can’t go from point to point. I do better when I pick out intermediate points in between and work my way along. Second, before I start running off, I need to slow my thinking down enough to focus HARD on the map so as to try to anticipate the places I will get confused and what will signal me that I have gone badly wrong. Third, standing and thinking is ok. I don’t have to let the clock ticking in the back of my head urge me on before I am ready.

 

I got very mixed up in this area. I thought the control point should be in front of me, in the grass to the left. It was behind me, hidden by a hedge (which was of course on the map…)

 

Nonetheless, I really love the focus and the exhilaration of orienteering. I love running along with a goal in mind and meeting the challenges of each segment of the event.

I also found that the experience of playing a game in this particular location led to quite a bit of reflection. Not that long ago these buildings would have been full of people – a whole society existed here. As I ran along I imagined what memories these buildings, all silent now, hold in their bricks and concrete. I wondered if it were disrespectful to the patients and their suffering that I was running heedless through their walks and courtyards or jumping over stair railings.

 

 

I noticed, though, that the outside world is seeping in. There is free access to the site now, with an open gate. Near our start point a large crowd of brightly-dressed children were playing in a soccer game while their parents cheered, sat on lawn chairs, and ate dinner from coolers. There is a community garden with greenhouses, worked by members of the surrounding neighborhood (they have signs advertising their plant sale at the gate). I noticed quite a few people obviously out for an evening stroll or walking a dog – people from nearby making use of the lovely grounds.

As my husband said, it is a good thing that we can add happy memories to the history of this location. I think he is right. I am very grateful for being able to have the simple pleasure of doing an outdoor activity with other people, all of us enjoying ourselves.

Running

I’ve been working on returning to running – the past few years have been so up and down for my exercise and this past winter, with my husband’s injury, really added to the confusion.

So, I’ve been doing the run/walk method – you run some, walk some. I’ve got a plan and I’m working along with it.

When I run, I don’t listen to music – I just think. I come up with all kinds of odd things.

A couple of days ago I was going along and I made up a little cheer for myself. I must – I must tell you.

It owes a lot to the fact that I’m currently on a sequence of walk 2 minutes, run 5, walk 2, run 8…and to that old high school cheer 2-4-6-8…you’ll see.

Here goes:

Two five two eight
who do I appreciate?
Legs and feet, arms and abs
Claudia McGill machine is fabs!

See, I knew you’d like it. Now imagine me running along and chanting this little bit of encouragement (inside my head, of course, because I need all my breath to run…)

Lady running 4x4 11-16 small

I Run As Fast As I Can On A Track

Well, the title says it all. Senior Games, event #2 on my list – the running session. I did the 800 meters and the mile. Here’s what happened.

The event was held at Gwynedd-Mercy University in Lower Gwynedd, PA, about 15 or twenty minutes from my house. We arrived on time, 6 PM.

I checked in and looked around. There was a nice crowd gathered – runners from age 50 to 85+, and fans ready to cheer. One man’s family had all dressed in green (to match his running outfit) and carried a sign with his name, Tony, on it. As for me, I had my husband there to encourage me.

The first events were the 100 and 400, and there were quite a few heats. Six people ran at a time, from youngest to oldest, women and then men, filling the lanes in this order. Awards were given by age group but the actual races were run in mixed ages.

We stood by the side of the track, in the middle of one of the straight stretches. We fell into conversation with several women, one I knew from another competition, and others I just met. It turned out nicely because we could cheer for each other.

I noticed many more men competing than women. This fits in with my experiences with 5K’s – after age 50, men really outnumber women, though I think it’s the opposite in younger age groups. I don’t know why this is and I offer no opinions other than to say, I don’t plan on giving up until I give out, so I’ll do my part to keep the numbers up.

All right. Finally it was time for the 800. Only three women ran it along with 10 or so men, I think. So our heat included men and women.

I’ll tell you now, I haven’t run these distances since high school in the 1970’s. I am a 5K+ runner, and I had no idea how to do the race. So I just tried to start out strong and stay with it.

All right. I made it. I had hoped to be faster than 4:30 and I was – 4:20. So I was happy. I will say that it’s darn hard to start out running fast, though. I’m used to getting an easier start and building up! I ended up second in my age group (all the runners were in my age group) and that pleased me, too.

After a rest while the men finished, it was time for the mile. Once again, there were three women and more men. I had a better idea how to manage this race, since it was longer. I started off easier; my first three laps were virtually the same split. I was going along in 3rd place. By the 4th lap I had warmed up and I could see the second place runner was flagging a bit. I thought I could pass her – decided to make my move on the straight stretch before the final curve, so I didn’t have the extra effort of passing her on the outside and making things harder for myself.

The strategy worked and I felt very pleased with myself for thinking it through! My final lap was 15 seconds faster than the first three. That’s what training for 5K’s will do for you, I guess. My time was 9:31, meeting my goal of 9:30 or so. I ended up in second place and once again I was pleased.

Here I am finishing the mile.

I felt quite a bit of relief now that it was all over. All that remained was getting our awards.

And here I am, triumphant.

claudia sr games 2 5-16 small

Oops, let’s try that again.

claudia sr games 3 5-16 small

Now all that remains is the timed walk, tomorrow, at Montgomery County Community College. Until then…

Recent Art Drop Offs

I haven’t been taking photos of all the items I’ve left around lately – got distracted. But here are some recent locations, and I plan to try to be more careful to remember to take photos in the future…

These locations are all places that I walk/run. I feel lucky to have so many great trails near my house.

*****

This little guy is on the Green Ribbon Trail in Fort Washington State Park, set on a stump near this wonderfully bright bush.

Figurine 10-9-15 Green Ribbon small

A couple were set along the Power Line Trail, Horsham, PA.

Then we made a trip to Tyler State Park, Newtown, PA. One settled on a bench by the creek and I put another one on a stump next to a tee on the disc golf course.

Finally, back at Fort Washington State Park, near the bird stand, I put out these figures.

Try to Keep Up

Sometimes things go a little – strange – in the process of art drop-offs. This little tale will illustrate that point nicely, I think. Pay attention, it’s complicated. I’m even a little confused myself, maybe.

It all started about ten days ago. I left a stick lady on a bench along the Green Ribbon Trail, and she was gone in thirty minutes. (You can read about it here.)

The lady.

The lady.

Yesterday, I was on the trail again and I left another lady on a post in the middle of the path.

Today, I went back to the Green Ribbon and I meant to set out two clay figurines. I started off with the two in my little green beltpack, along with the camera and car keys and so on. I left the first one along the trail on this stump.

Next, I passed the location where I left yesterday’s stick lady. To my surprise, she was there, and joined by another object. I stopped and looked it over. The lady from ten days ago was there with this note wrapped around her:

Note 9-4-15 small

My goodness. This has never happened before! I decided to take her with me, and jammed her in the pack. I’d find a new spot for her. But next, I left the second clay figurine on this bench:

I then went up to Bird Hill, where the bird stand is – a popular place to view the hawks. Someone is always there with binoculars, scanning the skies. I left the retrieved stick lady in the pamphlet box at the bird stand. No bird watchers noticed a thing – they were all looking up.

Then I started back toward the car. As I passed the stick lady from yesterday, I decided she looked a little vulnerable perched on the post, so I grabbed her up and then set her on this concrete wall. It’s the upper portion of a disused rail underpass – this section of the trail used to be a rail line (if you’re interested in it, take a look here  and here – my husband and I explored it back in the winter when the landscape was more open).

I finished out my exercise and went back to the car. All done!

In Which I Connect With My Inner Silhouette

A few days ago I was about to start on a run/walk along the Green Ribbon Trail. As always, I stopped in at the bathroom by the parking lot. Just in case, right? This little building proclaims its identity from afar, that’s for sure. Those figure signs are visible from quite a distance.

Bathroom Flourtown 8-15 small

I’d never noticed how many signs there are on the ladies’ room door, but once again, you can’t make a mistake about what this door leads to, can you?

Ladies room sign 8-15 small

But the reason I’m even mentioning all of this is, I took a close look at the woman figure on the sign to the left. A very stylish lady, I thought, and so much more interesting than those blocky stolid ones that are the standard.

As I walked back across the lot toward the trail’s start, my attention was caught by the image of my shadow on the asphalt. I do love shadows and having just examined that lady silhouette, I was struck by how my shadow seemed to have some kinship with her. Even the color scheme is similar, though reversed. So I took my own picture a few times – I especially like the way my hat looks!

Good Deed. Thank You.

It’s a small thing, but then, maybe not. It seems important to me that I mention this incident.

I was running along the new section of the Pennypack rail trail this morning. There are parts of it still awaiting their final covering of gravel. So I had some very muddy parts to navigate, with this one in particular looking just impossible to cross. Not only was the trail one big deep mud bog, and for a good distance, but the area extended into the brush and the footing was not good enough to skirt the mess. I thought I’d have to just go through it and my poor sneakers, well, they would take a trip through the wash when I got home.

But an unknown person did me and all the rest of us trail-users a favor. It was a simple thing – lay a couple of boards along the side of the mud hole. But it took some doing. They looked like clapboards and they weren’t local – meaning just lying around within a few feet of the trail. Somebody went to trouble to help us all out.

I’m certainly thankful for what they did. It made me feel cared for. Sometimes it’s easy to think the world is a harsh place and everyone is looking out for himself or herself and no one else. This little gesture reminds me that often things are otherwise, in all kinds of small ways that add up.

Made me smile!

Sunshine Project – Update on Two Participants

Through some interesting circumstances I can give you an update on a couple of sunshines. Or at least I can tell you if they’ve left their locations. I would not have had these particular experiences if it hadn’t been for the Sunshine Project – maybe that’s what I’m trying to say.

Today I decided to go for a run in the Pennypack Wilderness Area, the location for Day 84. I had gone here often before my illness but I haven’t run here for more than two years. After dropping off the sunshine, I couldn’t get the spot out of my mind. The weather was great today, so I decided to try things out.

I started at the sunshine location. This sunshine is gone! But the lost keys are still there, though the gloves are no longer around anymore, either. Made me smile.

Not too long down the trail, I saw a man who I know from the Pennypack Rail Trail in Lorimer Park. Quickly – because there are a lot of Pennypacks around – the Wilderness Area is a private foundation with a rough trail system; the Pennypack Rail Trail is a county trail. The rail trail has an older section in Lorimer Park and a new section that runs along the Pennypack Creek on the bank opposite from the Wilderness Area. There is also some land that is under the township’s jurisdiction. See what I mean about all the Pennypacks? I wonder how they keep it straight. But for those of us on the trails, well, we just enjoy ourselves, no matter where we are. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t follow the geography I mention – all you have to know is I kept on moving along the trails!

Anyway, this man told me the new section of the rail trail had just opened. I had no idea. And I was so excited! We’ve been waiting for this addition. I will have so much to explore!

I will not go into much detail on the new trail except for how it affects the Sunshine Project. I am sure it will be a subject for later. I continued along until I reached one of the bridges leading from nearby roads to the park – there are a couple of substantial stone/concrete car bridges that used to lead to active roads along the creek but now just dead-end into the trail system. This bridge allowed me to cross to the new section of the rail trail.

I ran along the new trail. I passed some park employees who were doing work on one of the former rail bridges on the trail. I stopped and we had a chat about the new trail.

Bridge decking extension rail trail 4-2-15 small

I ran all the way to the Bryn Athyn Post Office, also a site of a sunshine dropoff. Remember that this post office used to be a station on the abandoned rail line – I had not realized the sign from those days still hangs from the former platform area.

Bryn Athyn PO rail sign 4-2-15 small

This sunshine is still in place. it’s been there since January.

You may remember these views – the car bridge crossing the Pennypack Creek, and the post office itself.

I ran all the way to the connection with the older part of the rail trail that comes from Lorimer Park. I think this bridge will get some railings soon and probably a new deck.

I turned around and made my way back. To return to the side I started on, I crossed at a car bridge and I saw some Bryn Athyn College students doing some kind of work along the bank of the creek (I knew who they were because their school van was parked on the bridge!) Remember that I left a sunshine on their campus as well.

Since I was back on the Wilderness side, the trail was much rougher. Not paying attention, I tripped and fell. I came out of it ok, but my running tights had a big hole in the knee. I resolved to keep my mind on my exercise and promptly was diverted by this enormous root ball from an overturned tree right by the trail.

I also noticed the many stone wall remnants – from the various buildings and purposes that this land has been put to over the years. The forsythia arching over the wall in the one section that I noticed, well, I feel that if I came back next week it would be a mass of yellow blooms.

After all this adventure, I made it back to the car in one piece (though not without having splashed a lot of mud on my ruined leggings…). I passed on the information about the new section of the rail trail to a man walking with four kids and a dog – he told me that he ran the trails regularly (without the kids and dog) and we had a nice talk about the trail system until the kids got impatient and I realized that it was lunchtime already!

Thank you, sunshines, for giving me the idea for this outing. I had been afraid to run here for some time – just didn’t feel able to face it – but coming here with the Project gave me the courage to try, and I am so happy that I did.

Sunshine Project – Day 87, Green Ribbon Trail, Fort Washington, PA

Exactly one year ago today I was at my lowest point in my two-year illness. It’s a date that is etched in my memory. I won’t go into any more detail, because – it’s a year later, and that means from now on, when I think of a year ago, my memories of bad health and troubles will be turned toward recovery and change and better times. It’s what the whole Sunshine Project has been about, helping me to get through the worst memories and make new ones that are good.

So, where was I today? We had a gray, mild morning. I decided to go for a run at another of my favorite sites, the Green Ribbon Trail. I have a route I follow – it’s shaped like a Y. I start at the base, go up one arm of the Y and back to the intersection, follow the other side, and then back to the beginning to make a 5.2 mile run.

And think about it – it’s St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to celebrate than to traverse the GREEN Ribbon Trail, right?

I had a place in mind for the sunshine, a couple of miles away. I decided to take photos and go easy on my way there, and then get back to solid running after the sunshine was set in place.

So I started off at the picnic area.

I checked the status of this suburban farm – these people have a thriving business selling produce and eggs and so on that they grow in their large back yard. I could hear the rooster crowing.

Suburban Farm Green Ribbon Trail 3-17-15 small

This downed tree caught my eye. The practice is that when a tree falls, it is cleared from the trail and the pieces stay where they are left. The section with two circles was very interesting to me and I tried to visualize what the tree must have looked like to have grown in this way.

I came to the bridge across the Wissahickon Creek. Much of the trail runs in the flood plain of this creek. I left a sunshine on the bridge some time back – it’s gone now.

Bridge over the Wissahickon 3-17-15 small

I saw this tree and the home that some creature has created in it. When I see trees standing in water like this, I always think they must have cold feet, but this one doesn’t seem to be bothered.

I saw the Lost and Found Department on the side of the trail. Interesting combination here, a flip-flop and a winter glove meeting up like this.

Lost and found Green Ribbon Trail 3-17-15 small

These trees reflected in the icy water – I thought the cracks in the ice mimicked the tree branches, or maybe it’s the other way around?

Reflection of trees in water plus ice Green Ribbon Trail 3-17-15 small

I came to the spot where I wanted to set the sunshine. I chose this bench – it’s a new one.

I love the view the bench has, looking over the creek as it does. This location is picturesque in all seasons.

Now that I had dropped off the sunshine, I resolved to make better time. I ran for another 20 minutes, I guess, but I got stopped by a couple of view I just had to inspect. One thing led to another, and here is how it went. First thing to grab my attention was this stump – I saw it as a troll.

Troll?

Troll?

Then, since I had stopped, I had time to notice snowdrops! A great big group of them just beyond the “troll”.

These are the first snowdrops I have seen this year.

These are the first snowdrops I have seen this year.

A few steps further on, this big sycamore tree, with its limb reaching out over the water, called me for a closer look.

As I went back to the paved trail, I crossed an area of sand, gravel and other bits and pieces that the winter storms had washed up. I don’t know about the shell, but I knew right away what the other items were as soon as I saw them – they are pieces of terracotta garden pots that have been tumbled and smoothed by the friction of water and stones. They were cool and damp in my hand.

Shell and Clay pieces Green Ribbon 3-17-15 small

I went the rest of the way back to the parking lot without a stop. What a change from where I was last year at this time.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, March 17, 2015.

Sunshine, March 17, 2015.

The sunshine would love to tell you more about itself – click here, or search under “Sunshine Project” in the category list.

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