I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Feeling purple

Purple flags

 I suppose I should probably put up a flag or banner to mark Memorial Day, but instead I'll just share here a picture of some purple iris flags instead, hoping that maybe it will be sufficient to convey my current state of mind. Yes, Memorial Day is an important holiday, one that should be marked with plenty of fanfare, but I live in a town that is completely taken over this weekend by the Ski to Sea race, a multi-sport relay race that starts at the Mt. Baker ski area and ends at Marine Park in Fairhaven. I have never joined the race, but a couple of times I volunteered to put packets together and went twice to the finish line, watching the kayakers (the final leg) pull their kayaks out of the water and stagger to the finish in order to clang the bell to end the race for their team.

Usually each team has one participant for each of the seven events, with two canoe paddlers, but the others race individually in their segment. It has the following events, following a race map that shows the entire race:

A Ski to Sea team consists of three to eight racers competing in seven different sports: Cross Country Ski, Downhill Ski/Snowboard, Running, Road Bike, Canoe (2 paddlers), Cyclocross Bike, and Sea Kayak. Beginning in 2018, racers will be allowed to participate in up to three legs on race day, for one team or multiple teams. Teams will have a minimum of three racers and a maximum of eight. The Race course runs through the towns of Glacier, Maple Falls, Kendall, Everson, Lynden, and Ferndale, finishing at Marine Park in the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham.

When I first moved to Bellingham, I was an active skydiver and would leave town early Sunday and drive south to Snohomish, where I could spend the day playing in the air with fellow skydivers. I saw the enormous number of cars filled with race participants heading the opposite direction on the highway. That is almost a decade ago, since I made my last skydive in 2015. Since then, I've mostly stayed away from the incredible crowds of revelers. Blasting music, lots of beer, and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds just never have been my thing. If you want to see what it's like, you can check it all out by mid-week on this link.

 This year's event sold out in March, with 500 teams competing at all levels, from recreational to elite competition. The same teams seem to win year after year, and they have come up with some delightful team names, which I enjoy perusing online. I found these gems: Kicked in the Nooksack, Gang Green, Lumberjills, Beer Runs Downhill, Dukes of Haphazard, and many more. (The Nooksack River is part of the race course.)

These days, I do my best to skirt around the mayhem and stay close to home. This past week I spent many hours mourning the loss of my right eye's central vision, and will be seeing a retina specialist before I write here next week. I have researched the two different treatments that are now available for geographic atrophy, which is the end stage of macular degeneration. I am so hoping that the injections will be available to me to save my other eye, and that my insurance will cover at least part of the expense. Both require monthly eye injections but work in different ways. Neither treatment can restore what has been lost, but the hope is that the shots will slow the progression. This treatment has been around for less than a year, but there is no time to waste if I am not going to become completely, legally blind. Left eye, I am crossing my fingers for a good outcome for you!

And thinking of my family and friends who are no longer with us, on this weekend when we remember those who served and paid the ultimate price, I salute you. And I am very happy to still be around to celebrate the holiday this year. I found this quote from Obama that says it all for me:

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. —Barack Obama

 There are so many things to be grateful for today, and I should focus on those things rather than what I am losing. There are many worse situations that people find themselves in, and I am not the first person to go blind, my probable future. I can hike and walk in the beautiful environment in which I live, and I have a warm place to shelter in and a wonderful partner to share my life with. A place with a great bus system, and ways to get almost anywhere I need to go without driving. A really outstanding Senior Center with plenty of activities, people to interact with, and a plethora of hiking buddies to join me at every level. When I look at all my blessings, I definitely feel appreciative.

I also acknowledge that nothing stays the same, we all are a week older than when we met here last week, and that everything moves on through the river of time in which we exist. I am grateful for it all, and I wish there was some way to expand my own good life to encompass the entire world. And even if this environment were to change for the worse, I have been incredibly lucky so far. My heart is full, and I am almost ready to spring from my bed and begin the rest of my day, looking forward to a visit with my friend John during our Sunday breakfast, and coming home and visiting with my life partner. What's not to like? I wish you, my dear virtual family, every good thing that life has to offer. Be well until we meet again.


Linda Reeder said...

I'm up too early for me, but more sleep eludes me. From 5AM to 6AM I tried to go back to sleep, but with no success. I gave up, but I knew your post would be up to give me something to ponder.
I see now that the rain has begun. Many around here planning for holiday weekend outdoor adventures will have their plans dampened. Kind of like my spirits. I am noticing that I am lacking joy. This has happened before. Maybe it's that I need to have my thyroid medication boosted. Maybe it's that I'm mourning my lack of mobility. We have been spending a lot of time working in our garden, but it is very hard for me to get around and everything takes more time. My balance is very bad and I have to constantly work at not falling down. We had a disapppointment that we are working to overcome when we discovered too late that our "new" car does not have an important safety feature we wanted, blind spot detection. Tom feels the dealer mislead us. I blame myself for not being more diligent. Blinded by the red?
But like you, I have so much to be grateful for. Since it is raining we will be doing our Monday inside chores today, so we can be outside tomorrow. I'll turn on the Indy 500, something my kids and I always used to watch, and I think they still do. I saw them yesterday when we delivered our Chevy to Jill with papers to sign. They were busy. Our time together was short. That happens.
I hope you, my friend, find some joy today and this week. I'll look for it too.

Rian said...

Hi DJan! We had several serious tornadoes in North Texas last night. Luckily our immediate area was not affected. But it just seems like we're having more and more severe weather...
I love that quote from Obama! He's so right... about a lot of things.
Wishing you good luck and sending good vibes for your visit with the Eye Specialist. I too am grateful for the life I've had, my family, and friends - both real and virtual! Take care, my friend... and take joy!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I can understand the need to mourn your failing eyesight. Saying prayers for your remaining eyesight to be saved. Everyday is different...time marches on with or without us.
I am with you no crowds for us, but what I consider a crowd is more than 8 people:)
Hang in there!! We old gals are tougher than we think!!

John's Island said...

Thanks to your post I discovered the webcam at Marine Park!
I tried to click over to skitosea to get the details and got this message …
“The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”
I will check back later.
Otherwise, wishing you the best re your vision concerns. Please keep us posted.
Happy Memorial Day to you and SG.

gigi-hawaii said...

That is an exciting relay to participate in. But, like you, I would avoid the crowd of people.