Day 1,848 – Thankful for a Cool Fall Run, Steam Rising From the River During a Sunrise, Stories of a Wonderful Man’s Funeral, and…

What a day it has been! This is about the first time I’ve had to sit down, relax, and think today. For sure, it’s been a great day, busy and full of many wonderful moments. Now as I pause and reflect there are three specific gratitudes that really stick out… all along one common theme.

Our run early this morning was the first one of the year to be just below 40 degrees. Running in my usual shorts and t-shirt felt truly refreshing, and I say that without an ounce of sarcasm. The temperature was almost exactly my favorite running temp. At one point I felt like I could run forever. Cool enough to cool my muscles and not drip with sweat, but not so cold that I was uncomfortable in the least. When we hit our turnaround point we both paused for a moment and looked up to the stars and watched for satellites and falling stars for a moment. The steam from my breath, the starlight above, the cool air in my lungs, and the quiet stillness of the fresh new day in the woods reminded me of…

My drive to work in Winona runs along one of the most scenic drives in America, running up Highway 61 along the bluffs straddling the Mississippi River. The sun started to slowly rise above the horizon in deep reddish orange hues. The air was just cool enough and the river just warm enough create specters of fog rising from the water. While I drove my eyes wandered to the quiet shores of the river, the small little bays of tall grass and plants in the water, the embankments which would provide perfect habitat for muskrat, and the beauty which lie behind it all and my mind drifted back to…

When I got home Becky shared her experience of the funeral for a wonderful neighbor of ours. She and Gavin had gone to support our neighbor and one of his grandsons, Gavin’s classmate and friend. They both shared how eerily familiar it was to Dad’s funeral a handful of years ago. Our neighbor was an incredible human who always showed kindness and love. He helped others all the time in many ways. Every time we’d see him he’d smile and wave. I just saw him a couple of weekends ago and his smile brought a smile to both my face and my heart. John was an awesome person who brought much joy, strength, and love into the worlds of all he knew. As Becky shared the stories from John’s family and pastor at the funeral I kept thinking about…

…spending time with Dad in the fall. A morning like this reminded me of so many we’d spent in a canoe long before sunrise under the starlight in cool air. We’d wake up so early and load up into the truck. The drive was usually a quiet and dreamlike trip to the lakes. Unload the canoe quietly, slip into the water silently, paddle slowly but purposefully, and occasionally look up at the stars in awe. We’d go from trap to trap to check our success, sometimes in silence, sometimes joking, and other times engaged in serious conversation. I was about Gavin’s age now, give or take a year, and this was some of my private time with Dad. In moments like this I learned to appreciate time in nature, the peace which can only be found before sunset in the wilderness, and company of a loved one in which no words need be spoken to share appreciation of all the beauty around us. The smell of the fall is everywhere around us, the falling oak leaves, the pine, and the lakes. The specters of fog slowly rise from the water and start to dissipate into nothingness as the sun slowly rises.

Mornings like this, beautiful fall days, always remind me of some of my most sacred time with Dad. One day when we are are together again we will again paddle our canoe under the stars and soak in the beauty of the wilderness surrounding us. We will joke, we will talk, and we will quietly enjoy each others company. My heart will be beyond full. What I would give for one of those mornings again.

These are the times when I miss Dad most. They are the times when I realize just what a gift he’s given me. They are the times when I remind myself that the hurt I feel from missing him is because of the love he shared. I am so blessed to have created so many memories like this with him. I am grateful for the days like this, these perfect fall days, when I somehow appreciate him most.

Love you dude! Thank you for all those memories for all those fall days, they brought me joy then, they bring me joy now, and they will bring me joy all my days. Love you Dad!


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