I wrote this after a beautiful early spring hike with Leslie:
Another gorgeous day in Seattle. Warmish and lots of sunshine. Leslie Fichtner and I went up Mount Si. Do you call it a hike, a climb, a workout? Whatever it is, I love it! It is Seattle’s backyard hike. Hardly anyone was on the trail today, which is surprising for Mount Si.
When Leslie and I hike, we chat up a storm. It is good because the talking helps us to pace ourselves. We catch up on all the news of our lives. We get in some great laughs because, honestly, I think all that fresh air makes me feel giddy and silly. We seem to be very well matched in terms of ability and physical stamina. Hiking with Leslie is very soul satisfying.
The air was particularly delicious today. The views beautiful. Up at the haystack, we had lunch and we soaked in the sunshine. Last time I was at the haystack (4000 ft. up), I was in a hurry to get back on the trail because the sweat on my back felt icy cold when I stopped. But this time, we sat a while. The sun kept us warm and so we were not in a hurry to descend. At some point, I was holding my sandwich with one hand and using the other hand to be dramatic while speaking (you know, my Italian heritage dictates that I talk with my hands) AND along comes a bold and brazen gray jay and he tries to snatch the sandwich from my hand. I was so surprised that I screamed and THREW the sandwich, which is exactly what he had hoped for. Leslie was trying to be very ladylike and not laugh aloud with food in her mouth. Another gray jay came swooping at my sandwich a little while later. So I started holding my sandwich with two hands (which means no talking for me) and I was hovering over my food protectively. So the rascal swoops and dives for my HAIR which again made me scream. It scared the crap out of me for a second. Leslie saw the whole thing and the birds finally got her to laugh aloud with food in her mouth. We had a good laugh about that, too!
How I love to hike and feel like I am getting a great workout. I hope I can hike until I am super old like the elderly people I saw hiking in Japan. I was on some of the most difficult trails in the Japanese Alps and there they were plugging along, never hesitating to cheerfully say, “Konichiwaaaaaaaaa!”
I never take for granted that I can move my feet, swing my arms, and get my heart thumping, sweat, and breathe. No hike is without thoughts of my sister, Jeanie, who day after day lies paralyzed in bed or is in her wheel chair, living in a nursing home at age 53. She has lived with MS for the last 25 years and I can’t remember the last time I heard her complain about her lot in life!! She is my inspiration. I have no reason to complain about anything EVER. When I do my yoga, when I hike, when I move my limbs and feel my heart pumping, I am never without thoughts of her. And when I take in those deep breaths, I think of my parents who struggled with every breathe at the end of their lives. I will never take the beauty of movement, breath, or my good health for granted. One often hears the adage, “Every day is a gift.” And to that I add, “Every movement is a gift. Every breath is a gift. Every friend is a gift.”