Dirt and Dancing; Dancing and Dirt

It’s me again, more or less ready to get back to blogging after a way-too-busy six months. What have I been doing all that time? Editing, grandchildren, not enough biking, holidays and out-of-town family, football and tailgate guests, more editing—and more. There have been many, many blog-worthy days since last September, and maybe I’ll get around to telling the stories of them sometime.

The biggest item taking up my time has been the building of our lake cottage. Over Mother’s Day weekend, both of my daughters and their families came to break it in. What a great time we had! Boating, relaxing, eating, leaving behind all cares other than to sit back and watch the grandkids swim (with or without bathing suits; we weren’t prepared for the day being swimmable) and throw a ball into the water for Ali’s dog to fetch. This encapsulates the “dancing” of my headline: there is little in life better than a lake and family, and my soul dances with joy.

There has been much “dirt” along the way to realizing the dream of a vacation home located just minutes from our regular home. My husband has marveled at the hours I spent picking out the perfect floor tile or most excellent faucet; he scoffed at the pineapple-shaped lights I found. It’s part of the dirty work of building, but now that the cottage is (mostly) put together and liveable, we agree that each cabinet style, each doorknob, each wall color and floor covering is perfect!

The literal dirt of the newly built cottage has mostly been cleaned up; there is no more sawdust in the corners of the cabinet drawers. Many days of wiping and sweeping and of putting beds together and installing window treatments have come at the expense of the appearance in our regular house of dreadful messes and thick dust. As of Saturday, however, when the kids arrived at the lake for the weekend, I declared an end to the building process. Things that need finishing will have to wait in line with other priorities, such as biking and other fitness activities and hobbies that have been neglected.

Back to dancing with the fun of retired life! A fine trail race called, in fact, Dances with Dirt helped mark this transition. Ali and I ran the 10K version of the race on Saturday. It’s a race whose website warns that trail conditions will halve your running pace. And they use the term trail loosely. The woods were spectacularly beautiful; but if you were out for a woodsy hike or even a run-of-the-mill trail run, would you look at an insanely steep, muddy, rocky ravine and say to your companions, “Let’s go down that as fast as we can”? Or “why take the path along the stream—we could just walk in it”! Or, “Say, there’s a deep spot in that icy cold river, let’s go that way”!

The worst part of this awesomely fun race was the first muddy uphill, which is so muddy it is named “Slime Hill.” You wind slowly back and forth across the trail looking for a semi-solid area to put your $100 running shoe (okay, of course you wear a very old pair). A time-consuming and dull way to go, which is the only reason it is the worst part. Finally, you give up and just stick your feet anywhere and revel in the cold feeling of mud seeping into those shoes and the sucking sound they make coming up again. Way to dance!

I am pleased to report that our pace was 20:06 min/mile, for a finishing time of 2:04. There were only two women over 60 running, so I was first in my age group and my status as a crazy old woman confirmed. A more complete report was available in my daughter’s blog [sorry, it’s been discontinued]. While she highlighted there my near-race-ending crash at the starting line, she neglected to mention that we laughed just as hard at the one item she made sure to carry with her on the course—a pair of tweezers to pluck out ticks and crush them to death. Luckily the only use it got that day was cleaning the dirt out of her nails!