Car Story

Yesterday my daughter wrote a story, pictured here and translated below:

The Original

The Original

Once there was a car and it was clean and it was small.  One day it went for a drive but it wasn’t looking where it was going and it got lost so it found a place to sleep.  In the morning it started to look for its home but it just could not find its home.  So that night it built a home and it had a good night sleep.  The next morning it made some new friends and it missed its old friends.  But it lived happily ever after.  The End.

Inspired by a Golfer

I am not a golfer.  I have played a few rounds, at the request of friends who understand that games, including golf, are for fun, and who are willing to laugh at themselves and, especially, at me.  I had a few decent shots and understand why others love the game.  Nailing it just right feels pretty good.  Nonetheless, I haven’t picked it up.  I think the idea of acquiring more equipment for yet another activity turned me off.

So I was surprised this afternoon to be inspired by a golfer.  I was listening to NPR’s Fresh Air.  The host was interviewing John Feinstein, author of the new book Are You Kidding Me?  The tale is about the 2008 US Open challenge to Tiger Woods by Rocco Mediate, a low-ranking golfer who almost beat the best golfer in the world.  He didn’t beat Tiger Woods in the end, but the story is pretty amazing.

Mediate was ranked 158th in the world and had to earn a spot in the US Open in a qualifier.  At the end of a 36-hole tournament he made it through an eleven-man tie to get into the Open, with only 156 others.  Then he stayed at or near the top until he and Tiger Woods were tied.  They had to play an 18-hole tie-breaker to determine the winner.  At the end of that it came down to the last hole.  Tiger Woods had to make a put to win.  Which he did.

The amazing part of all this is, of course, that someone so obscure in a professional sport could come so close to beating someone so well-known for being so good.  The really amazing part of this is that Rocco Mediate had battled injuries and health problems.  He was known as someone who was really good when he was healthy, that qualifer being pretty important.

Here is how I was inspired.  Last summer I trained for the Vermont 50.  I pulled a muscle and had to stop running.  This spring I started training again.  Then I busted my toe and had to stop running.  But Rocco Mediate lost to Tiger Woods by one stroke after being a good golfer sometimes for years and years.  He kept a good attitude, a sense of humor, and never gave up.  He kept playing.

So why should I give up?  I only decided to start training again for the 50 last spring.  I am just about ready to run again.  I will need to pick things up from the beginning again but so what?  Maybe I can’t run the 50 this fall but what about next year?  I just need to be persistent.  I just need to get back into it and keep at it.  I don’t need to win.  I don’t even need to come one stroke away from winning.  Heck, I would pleased to be ranked 158th.

So, thanks, Rocco.  I am hoping this weekend to get out for my first run in just over a month.  I appreciate your story.  I will think of it when I need to get out there on those cold and wet days.  And then I will get out there and run.

Stories Before Bed

The children love it when I tell them stories before bed.  The stories are all over the map.  Sometimes they are easy–a spin on the Thomas the Tank Engine stories for example.  Sometimes they are exotic, like the family that sails around the world and visits various sites.  Sometimes they are just plain silly.  If want to get them to sleep faster, I do what I can to make them boring.

I put the kids to bed last night, so they got a decent story.  It was about a group of explorers who traveled the southwest looking for a magic rock.  They narrowed it down and then searched for weeks by foot, drinking water from puddles and peering under cactus plants.  Finally, they discovered a staircase made of narrow steps in a steep wall that could only be seen in the setting sun.  After waiting the night, they climbed the dangerous wall and discovered the rock among thousand year old corn and baskets.  It turns out all of them made a wish and the wish came true.  Was it because of the magic rock?  Or not?

They left the rock in its place and told no one about it, so who knows?  The kids went to bed wondering.  This can backfire, of course, when they keep asking questions about the story.  Tonight my wife puts the kids to bed.  They asked for me and complained when I said no, it was Mom’s turn.  She doesn’t tell the same caliber of stories, I guess, at least not as regularly.

I like the ones where the family travels the world.  They see all kinds of interesting things and meet curious people, like the woman who wears only purple who seems to show up on every continent.  How does she get around, that purple woman?  I get to imagine that our family is doing the traveling, and I hope I am planting the seeds for our children to want to travel.  One of these days we may.

They are drifting off now, story over, such as it was tonight.  I need to plan ahead for tomorrow night’s story.  I am not sure what it will contain, but the purple woman hasn’t made and appearance in far too long.  She needs some story time.  I am thinking she may get it in about 24 hours.

Snow on the Ground

Last night snow fell and the sunrise seeping through the gray clouds let us see an inch of snow stuck to the trees, the grass, the road, the roof, everything.  I rose early and ran in the dark.  The darkness seemed brighter for the fresh snow, wet from fall’s warmer air and unfrozen ground.  Fall and winter have begun their discussion over who gets to spend the night.  We need to get our snow stakes planted, so the snow plow driver knows where to aim, before the ground gets too hard.

I drove to Montpelier today and was stunned repeatedly my the morning’s beauty.  I feel that way a lot, but this was a doozer.  I passed through the Winooski River Valley that cuts through the ridge of the Green Mountains and felt small with the beauty of this world looking so new.  The first true snow of fall has a clarity to it.  Leaves still cling to branches and green still dresses the ground.  The cover of snow says winter is on the way and let’s celebrate with an art show.  The snow on the mountains is the show’s highlight.

I went to a workshop this morning where we discussed the power of stories.  One element of this was the identification of “significant events” in our lives.  I have had some that would qualify for sure–running fifty miles, climbing Mount Shasta, kayaking whitewater, having children.  But I also listed rising in the morning, and my children’s laughter, and weather.

Like saving energy in a home, where there often isn’t one change that will make a huge impact, but where many small changes will add up, those small everyday moments add up to significant events.  I think about the weather each day, and not just to see what to wear or what my commute will be like.  I watch the sun rise, or admire the late day light on the hills, or feel the wind on my cheeks.  I find power in these moments daily, and their sum adds to more than any one event in my life.

Today’s snow was money in the wonder bank.  After I got home, after my elation that I got to see the wet snow still clinging to the trees rather than slumped to the ground as I had expected, my children wanted to bust out the sleds.  It wasn’t the slickest sledding, with grass patched through the white across the hill, but they had a blast.  They laughed a lot and so, of course, did I.

Who knows what things will look like in the morning?  I love that I cannot know until there is enough light to see it.  Sure, I can look at the weather forecast, but it won’t tell me if the last of the goldenrod will still carry snow, or if the maple will have shed its leaves in the night, or if the crescent moon will peak out from the line of low clouds.  For that, I have to wait.