Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer is Leaving; Winter is Coming

I love living by a river. It's 4 minutes by car and about 30 minutes by run to get to the river. When we lived in Iowa, we would visit the Twin Cities as oft as we could in order to attend Bethlehem Church and Stillwater. We'd sit along the river and wish desperately to be back here. Now, we sit and are so thankful that we are back here.

The St. Croix River is an incredible river. In places it flows slowly and says to the world, "I'll move as slowly as I wish." In other places and at other times, it says to the world, "I will go and flow and rise wherever I wish."

In Stillwater, she is wide and entertaining. Near Lakeland, she is very wide and basically a lake. Near Marine, her islands make her appear like a swamp. Near Taylors Falls, she is fast and exciting. In the spring, she covers the trails at Wild River and invades Afton State Park.
This winter, I began running on her ice. I was drawn to run on the river-regardless of the temperature. Actually, the colder, the better.

As warmer temperatures came, I found myself growing sad. I would drive north on 95 after work and watch the ice from the Boom Site. In fact, during one series of about 5 days, I watched the progression of a major ice flow as it moved from the Boom Site down into Stillwater and under the lift bridge.

While I desired the warm days of shirtless running, I hated to see my icy path depart.

Yesterday, as I sat downtown and watched the entertainment from a perch in Stillwater, I realized why I love running on the river so much:
Wide open vistas where the view is unhindered except for the bend in the river.
The ability to run anywhere I wish across the width of the river; and then across an island, or on the shore, or right in the very middle of the ice.

This summer has passed quickly. More quickly than any I can remember. It passes with sadness. I think summer passed quickly because of the adoption of Sadie and Lizzie. Or maybe because of work. Maybe it has passed quickly because I never really wrote a summer to-do list like I have done for the past 20 years.

However, I am kind of glad summer is passing. Yesterday, I actually wondered if there were any way to run on an unfrozen river. I pictured myself getting about 2 strides in before sinking.

Honestly, I can't wait for it to get below zero out, for a week straight, so I can start testing the ice up near Arcola Mills. I can't wait to be out on the ice, the wind biting my nose, and all alone, listening for dangerous sounds, running from demons, looking for paradise in snow-covered forms. My goal for this winter: put in at Taylors Falls and run to Stillwater on the river. If you want to join me, we'll pack a picnic lunch, insulate our water, and carry lots of salt tablets, and bring cameras.


Chris Swenke said...


Considering the only time I run with you is these extremes I may have to take you up on the Taylor's Falls to Stillwater trip.

Hope all is well!

Julie Ann Fee said...

if i could get some gear that would keep me warm...i could MAYBE be persuaded to go with you crazy people, but probably not. i sure do enjoy reading about it though. thanks for this great post. ja

Unknown said...


I'm certain that Sean has good cold-weather gear. I've got plenty of wool (the best cold running material ever). You and Sean find a sitter and come over some night when I run the river. Marty and a few others will run and Sean can crew - he told me his running days are over. Maybe not?!

Carl said...

Sounds like a fun idea. I love running up and down the Valley (either north towards the boom site, or south towards Afton).

I haven't hit the ice yet, but it sounds amazing.

NJ said...

Wish I could join you...If I can figure out a way to run in the cold without breaking out in hives maybe I could come along. I may look like the abominable snowman!

If I can't, I would volunteer to be the roving aid station meeting up at designated points of access along the river.