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I am the person who runs on Riverside Drive with a bouquet of leaves in my hand this time of year. It adds flexibility to my work-out as the leaves are all the way down on the ground. Also makes me stop suddenly and backtrack. And look goofy. Nothing unusual there.

Hard to pass up


Last week I was at the beach briefly and decided to run back on the sand which is not the most graceful look, but the sky and ocean were steely and the beach was pretty empty and summer was waning, so I needed to get lots of sand in my Nike Frees one last time.  The sand near the incoming tide was the firmest so I stayed in those parts. I hadn’t run far when right in my path was a perfect black conch shell. I’ve never scene one in my life, so I picked it up. Gorgeous. I ran on with it. A minute later a smaller also black conch shell, missing half of itself, but still so cool looking, appeared. So I was a two-fisted shellrunner. I kept going, and yes, found THREE more, without veering from my course or even trying. By this time, it was completely ridiculous that I was running with all five in my hands, trying not to smash them to bits against each other or drop them and trample them myself. Nobody seemed to be living in any of them, and I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of all of them. They are stunningly gorgeous. Or were–the shells could withstand the ocean, but doubt they can handle my young niece and nephews.

Just one. I left the better ones for my nephews and nieces to smash.




Every fall I resist collecting pine straw for the paths in my backyard. With a sinking feeling, I think if I don’t get cracking, people will steal my stash and/or leaves will mix in and ruin it. Most people I know have yard people cut their grass and rake their leaves. We don’t, and now with no kids at home, there’s no one pitching in. And then I add to the work by raking up other people’s detritus out on the streets. It sounds dumb. It is dumb. But once I get past all that, it’s kind of fun.

I, too, was once someone who didn’t give a crap about pine straw, but every fall I turn into a freak about it. I need 20 bags of it. If I tweeted on Twitter, I’d say things like “OMG, scored six bags of the good stuff.” And the police would come to arrest me. “Honest, officer, it’s six bags of pine straw–just look at the quality of this stuff.”   Another in a series of reasons why I shouldn’t be on Twitter.

Every year I doubt I can hit my mark. Every year pine straw flutters down. Every year I bemoan my woeful bag count. Stall, delay, complain. And then once I get past four bags, I can see double digits just down the road. It takes only about five minutes per bag, counting the driving time. At some point it gets hard to stop. God knows I waste 5 minutes chunks all the time, perhaps one could argue, right now. 

But yesterday, after a rainy weekend I drove by a yard guy blowing pine straw off a neighbor’s front yard onto our street.  I raced home and retrieved my rake and bags and zoomed back before he had time to throw it all away. 5 easy bags worth hugged the edges of my street. It was pure. Golden. Soft. Piled up like bedding.  How could I have doubted the generosity of my own street? As I walked back and forth from my car I noticed how good it felt underfoot. How muffled my footsteps were by its softness. Perhaps kitchen floors should be made of pine straw. Just one idea here that is free for the taking–just like pine straw.

Trees have a much better approach to changing their looks than people do. The beeches, river birches, and redbuds are going blonde, and the Japanese maples and dogwoods are turning into perky redheads. No chemicals allowed. Based on the golden world outside my window, blondes really do have more fun. I have a feeling I’m more of an oak tree–stubborn and stolid, resisting changing colors, hanging onto my look for as long as I can.  Eventually, even the oak leaves will turn–brown and ugly though thankfully there are always a few coppery highlights that jazz up the scene. I just go gray.

I’m back!