Moment of (unexpected) beauty

It was a long, wet winter here in Heidiland. And is has been a cold, soggy, hypothermia-inducing spring. Down in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Lago Maggiore is brimming over. Around here the farmers can’t plant their potato crops, because the fields are too muddy for their tractors to till. Continue reading

Dispatch from the pit

IMG_0509It happened today. Out running along the lake in a cold drizzle, I felt it. The low pit of winter is past. We’re on the upslope to spring. There was a huge gaggle of cormorants (is gaggle the right term for cormorants?) on the fake island in Preverenges. They must be on their way to Scandinavia. They must be feeling it, too. (I took this picture the day before.)

I know it officially happened on December 21, when the balance of dark versus light hit bottom and the slow climb back into the sun began once again. But January is usually still too dark and cold and, well, winter for it to register. Today, however, despite the clouds and the rain, I finally feel like I’m climbing out of the hole. Continue reading

Moments of beauty, hibernation edition

Just so you know I’m still alive … here are a few pictures from some trail runs we did in Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Dolomites. Next year we might do the Cortina Trail 50km. (If it’s not raining.) Over the two days we were in Cortina we ran 42km of it, so we know what we’ll be getting ourselves in for. (Click on any of the pictures to see an enlarged version).


Race report: Aletsch half-marathon

Saturday afternoon, 16:07. Marc and I sit back and relax in the regional train from Lausanne to Brig. I pull out the food – apples, bananas, pistachios, and some crazy-good seed nut bars I’ve made from this recipe. I thought they’d be good recovery food for the trip back.

After three trips to the bathroom at the back of the car, it’s clear he’s well-hydrated.  Soon the seed-nut bars are gone. We talk about the upcoming race. Marc knows what he’s in for because he ran it in the summer of 2003.  I’m nervous because although I didn’t run it in 2003 (the boys had a soccer tournament), I can nonetheless do the calculations – altitude plus distance – and it doesn’t look easy. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

I feel like I’m ready. Last week’s race, the Trail de L’Absinthe, went pretty well. I’m feeling strong and confident. What’s a couple thousand meters more in altitude? So I’m going to have to climb more than 1000 meters? Big deal! Bring it on!

Hah! If I only knew…

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Let the conversation begin

Wow. It looks like I should turn this into a running blog, if the number of page views I got from that last post is any indication. Thanks for stopping by!

Or maybe people just liked the image of me as a marmot.

I ran twice this weekend – and both times I was clobbered with inclement weather. On Saturday I finished a long run in a cold rain, with salty water running down my forehead and into my mouth. After a run like that, a warm shower is such a comforting thing. Today I ran with a friend, and we were pummeled with hail for about ten minutes. We had a headwind, and it hurt. I pulled the collar of my fleece jacket up around my face to protect myself. By mile four, the sun had come out, my jacket was around my waist, and we were watching the sunlight sparkle on the water as we dodged the puddles on the trail.

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Moment of beauty III

This is a photo from the UN flickr site, showing the lake this past weekend near Geneva. It has been bitter cold and windy, and that makes the ice do weird things as it sprays up onto the shore.

More images of frozen cars, trees and benches like this one can be seen at 9gag, just type “Lake Geneva” in the search window.

I’ll take this opportunity to pass along a few more links:


It’s the last day of November. I have less than 12 hours to go on the NaNoWriMo challenge. In a last desperate bid to hit 50,000 words, I’m going to keep on writing all day, with just this little break to keep the blog alive. I’m still under 45,000, so it’s a stretch. Speaking of stretch, Thanksgiving was way too much eating and not nearly enough writing.

Once again, I could take a lesson from Smokey. Look at him. He’s just lying there, I’m standing right above him with the camera, and he doesn’t even budge. In fact, after I took the picture, he calmly turned his head away and closed his eyes again. I need some of that focus!

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Moment of beauty I

new mexico snow october

Not long ago, I did a guest post on the Running and Rambling blog. One of the best things about that blog is a series of entries called “Random Shots of Beauty” – pictures that Donald has taken out on his runs. I’ve decided to do a similar thing here.

This first entry is a picture shot by my brother Rob last week, i.e. early October, near Santa Fe, New Mexico. It took my breath away.

It should dispel the picture that many people mistakenly have of New Mexico as a hot, cactus-studded desert wasteland.  In fact, Santa Fe in winter is colder than where I live now, outside Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s higher in altitude, at nearly 7,000 feet (2,200 m). And in the summer, it’s appreciably cooler, drier and more comfortable than Baltimore, where we lived for seven years before moving here.

It rivals Switzerland and Nova Scotia as one of the most beautifully livable places on the planet, in my humble opinion. (Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. There are already too many residents of a certain shall-not-be-named neighboring state buying expensive summer homes and trying to ski on our slopes. But they’re probably not reading this blog, anyway…)