Being in the newspaper business most of my life, I’ve learned to be relatively un-rattled by news events. Even things like murders and other crimes become a more of a source of curiosity and intrigue than outrage or disappointment.
But this week I found myself oddly affected by two pieces of news I read.
First – and probably not surprising – were the effects of Tropical Storm Irene in the northern parts of the state. I felt a sadness when I saw sections of roads ripped up and normally quiet rivers rushing through towns in a path of destruction.
I found myself feeling not only sad, but also lucky.
Just one day before the storm I had been enjoying a quiet camping get-away in Hart’s Location. Our campsite was a stone’s throw, literally, from the Saco River. I marvel now at how the water running over the rocks brought a sense of peace to the campsite.
We cut our trip short because of Irene, not wanting to risk another night in a tent on the riverfront. A good decision, obviously. We were the last of the riverside campers to leave, but there were still a handful of inland campers on site when we left.
Our go-to camping spot, the Crawford Notch Campground, is situated between the Saco River and Route 302. That can’t mean good things. The road on either side of the campground, according to reports and photos, has crumbled. I only hope the campers we left behind decided to pack up and head out before the full wrath of Irene hit.
The campground was shut down for most of the week. Finally, the cabins, a few sites and the general store opened at the end of the week. Many sites still remain unusable. There is no doubt the owners will have some significant clean-up to do. I’m hoping our favorite spots are ready to go next spring so we can continue our camping tradition.
Another one of our summer traditions might be affected with the closing of Dodge’s Country Store in New Boston, the big, red general store right out of a postcard. It’s a favorite stop to take a break on our long bike rides and refuel.
My sweetie and I would often sit on the store’s front porch, snacking on peanut butter sandwiches we had packed in our jerseys and refilling our bottles with a mix of energy drink and water we would buy in the store.
From our perch on the porch, we could see the town library and, I think, a church across the street. It was quintessential New England if I ever saw it.
On the other side of the porch, undoubtedly, would be an older gentleman, usually wearing a plaid shirt and dusty old ball cap. It was always a different man, but it was always the same scene. He’d say hello to all of the locals who went in and out of the store, asking about family members or chatting about the weather.
I’m going to miss those times on the store porch, not to mention that, logistically, I’m going to need to find another spot to refuel. Somehow I sense that I’ll end up at a gas station “mart” and it won’t ever be the same as sitting on the New Boston store porch.
I’ve always said I run because I can. I’ve often added that I run for those who cannot.
I run for people like my mom, whose rheumatoid arthritis has ravaged her body so badly over time that even the simplest of tasks – putting her shoes on, getting a glass out of the cupboard, getting up from a chair – are increasingly difficult.
I think of my Aunt Kathy, who was suddenly paralyzed from the neck down a few years ago after a routine surgery. She now celebrates the smallest victories, like learning to hold a pen and write again.
It’s at the times when I least want to go running that I need to think of them and how much they would give to be able to get out and run. I think of how much they would like just have the choice of whether to run or not.
I need to remind myself of these things sometimes, especially now when I’m stuck in this running slump. After all, sometimes the things we appreciate – the things we think will always be there – are gone before we know it.