Monday, June 16, 2014

Thanks, Mum and Pappy.

I'm so thankful for my childhood and the way I grew up; barefoot, pony-tailed and wild. I have no doubt that my love for the outdoors, trail running and exploring came directly from a childhood spent getting into mischief, catching bugs and trying to keep up with my two older brothers. I'm grateful to both of my parents for the childhood I was given; only as an adult am I able to fully appreciate just how lucky I was.

Mom & Dad: Thank you for...

Encouraging me to run laps around the house in the middle of the night.
When I was a kid, I'd occasionally have "restless legs," an antsy feeling that came and went from time to time when I'd try to go to sleep. I'd creep into my parents' room in the middle of the night, complaining about the "jitters" in my legs. My mom's solution? Running a few laps around our house. At 2AM. I think this was my first introduction to running as a form of medicine; 25 years later, its still my drug of choice(other than red wine, of course).

To this day I can remember the feeling of the cold, damp grass under my bare feet, the sound of the crickets and frogs, and the relief that I'd feel when I crawled back into my bed, my legs finally still and relaxed. It always worked.

Not making me wear shoes.
I wore shoes as little as possible, sporting calloused, tan feet practically year-round. Any sure-footedness I now have on the trails came from years of practice, darting through the woods shoe-less, wild and free.

Turning off the TV.
Nature Freak in 1988
Oh, you were watching "Bobby's World"?  Not anymore! My mom was famous for walking right up to the TV, turning it off and telling us to go find something "productive" to do. The 9-year old rage I'd send her way when she flipped off an episode of "Saved By the Bell," was swift and intense. She didn't care. I'll always be grateful for that.

Giving me a (really) big back-yard.
Our house sat on a few acres in Powhatan, but my playground was much bigger. Next to our house lived our aunt and uncle, and on the other side of them, more cousins and more acres to roam. Our family lumber business was just down the country road; I spent a lot of time poking around down there and exploring the woods and wide open fields nearby. I'd be gone for whole afternoons, always within my mom's shouting distance (she was pretty loud...haha), but lost in my own world, letting my imagination and my feet roam where they pleased. Sometimes, when I'm out on the trail now, I'll have a moment of deja-vu; suddenly I'm back in the woods behind our house, chasing a frog or jumping from stump to stump.

I think this is one of the main things that has drawn me to trail-running as an adult; those long-ago childhood adventures scoot right up to the surface, eager to be remembered.

Now that my husband and I have a daughter of our own, its our responsibility to foster her love of the outdoors, to teach her to respect and care for our planet, and to encourage her as she discovers her own passions and dreams. I hope she'll grow up to be a confident, happy, lifelong explorer who isn't afraid to get a little dirt between her toes
Future trail-junkie? I sure hope so.

Here's hoping we'll be half as good as my folks.