28 June 2012

YWCA holds 8th annual womens triathlon

Serpentine swim at the York College pool.
Photo courtesy of
Last Sunday June 24, the YWCA in York, Pa. hosted the 8th annual women-only triathlon. Over 150 women from around York County gathered at the York College campus to swim, bike and run in competition, but more importantly, in fun.

The charm of this event was the supportive attitude expressed by the organizers and participants. It was a great way for me to start off the season and I recommend it for anyone curious to give triathlons a go.

The logistics were smooth and the atmosphere was encouraging.

Thanks York YWCA! I had a great time! For results and to get more information, click here.

26 June 2012

Weeding in the rain

Ground ivy garden
When I was in second grade, my class was assigned a different list of spelling words each week. The list was revealed on Mondays with the test on Fridays. To study, I would pen each word repeatedly down a sheet of loose-leaf lined paper 10 times, 20 times.

My theory was that the repetition would burn the correct spelling into my brain. The reality was that after 10 or so tries at a word, my brain would shut off and I would be running on muscle memory. The longer I spent spelling each word over and over, the less I was able to recognize the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of my spelling.

The word, initially a challenge to pen, was worked past the place of consistency and accuracy until I came full-circle back to a new unfamiliarity with the same term.

A few weeks ago I took a good look at my backyard vegetable garden. The majority of green-age that I saw basking in the afternoon sun was nothing I had planted. It was an infiltrator; a weed known as ground ivy. The heart-shaped leaves ringed with a serrated edge looked like miniature water lilies stretching their arms over the naked ground rather than the surface of a pond. No blooms were visible, just a web of green taking advantage of the soil I disturbed for the sake of my garden.

I got down on my hands and knees to strip away this invader and take back my garden. It was not a quick task. The ground ivy was everywhere. It curled around the corn. It crept between the potatoes. It buried the beans.

I lost track of time in my garden. While I worked, the sky changed from sunny to cloudy to raining and back again. The dirt around the roots of the ground ivy loosened with the rain. But the longer I worked, the more mistakes I made. I switched off my brain and went with muscle memory. See green, grasp and pull without mercy.

I was practicing for my spelling tests all over again. The familiarity was gone and all the plants looked the same. Ground ivy is string beans is oregano.

Eventually I worked through my brainless confusion, pulled up hundreds of handfuls of ground ivy and stood back to see my garden clearly once more.

08 June 2012

Car Talk retires!

A.T. O/B

Appalachian Trail -- somewhere in the Pennsylvania woods.
It's a rare occasion when Richard and I have the same day off, let alone two in a row. So when the schedule eclipse formed over Memorial Day weekend, we took to the woods.

Richard hiking south.
I have a history with the Appalachian Trail. In 2009, I hiked from Georgia to Maine on the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and not in the ways I imagined it would be challenging. On a trail that is frequented with hikers just out for the day or following the path to its terminus at either end I never felt more alone. And Richard was the person I missed the most. He was finishing his fourth year of medical school while I hiked alone in the woods.

So hiking with Richard on the Appalachian Trail, even if only for a 10-mile stretch, felt wonderful.

Getting ready to sleep on the floor of the woods.
We got a late start, per usual. Heading south on the A.T. from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, we hiked for about 10 miles. The last mile or so was under a precipitous and thundering sky.

But we arrived at the Birch Run shelter to a happy group of future-friends. After drying off and finally getting the alcohol stove lit, we boiled some water and cooked some homemade Mexican rice concoction I made for my thru-hike three years prior. Hiking food, like most prepared meals, is capable of lasting decades if left undisturbed. It tasted just like I remember: salty, cheesy and filling. Yum!
New friends!

A small group of us kept the other hikers awake long past dark chatting and getting to know each other better. I have made lasting friends thanks to the A.T. Like I said, it is full of people for being an unassuming trail through the woods. And now I have three more.

I love the A.T. because it rejuvenates me. Never a fan of cities -- all the more now that I live in one -- I forget how much they drain from me. I love slipping under the cover of the woods where all things green hide me from the world of combustion engines, television sets and my to-do list.
The pack I took on my 2009 thru-hike packed for a weekend trip.

As we head back to our own combustion engine-powered car to transport us back to the city, my head is full of  wonderful weekend wandering memories of our Appalachian Trail out-and-back that provide a vehicle for escape no matter where I am.