Forest Bathing

Getting out in the woods is so good for your soul, there’s even a name for it: forest bathing.

I’ve been doing a little of that myself over the past few weeks, with my renewed outings with the Shine Runners. I found this fun pub-run group last fall, but took a break from joining them during the winter because (it’s cold and) they run on local trails in the dark. I tried that once. I didn’t like it. And they run fast, in all conditions, for really long distances. Like running superheroes.

These folks had done 20 miles the previous weekend. Still faster than me.

But spring is here and with it daylight savings time. Those evening runs are once again taking place in the early twilight. I am by far the slowest of the group, but I’ve kind of designated myself the go-to person in case anyone wants a casual pace. And it’s been great.

No hunters this particular evening

We’ve gone out to Chaos Mountain Brewing, where you can run by a farm and catch a glimpse of a tom turkey (and hear him gobbling) as well as plenty of good-looking cows. Then maybe sit by the fire pit and enjoy their Marg and Rita gose, mmmmm.

We’ve enjoyed the woods around the Brooks Mill Winery, where Cathy and I took a wrong turn, disturbing some goats and dogs in a little barnyard (their owner came out on her porch in her pajamas to assure us that the dogs wouldn’t hurt us, but please, don’t let them follow us). And last night, a small group (okay, two of us) climbed up Grassy Hill in Rocky Mount.

Swiped from Andy D’s post

Grassy Hill was the most running I’d done in my run/walk combo, particularly as we headed downhill. And I noticed something. As you go running through the woods, you get to feeling very Midsummer Night’s Dream (“Check me out, I’m PUCK, y’all! IN THE WOODS!”).

Maybe it was relief at not feeling like my knees were wrecking themselves. Or not wiping out on the rocks (because Grassy Hill is a misnomer. It’s rocky). But it’s exhilarating.

And who needs to be a superhero when you can be a Shakespearean fairy? Seriously, go run in the woods.

Holiday Business and Beer and Wine

We are nearly ready for Christmas, and took care of just a few more items today.

And it’s a good thing, because the traffic around Tanglewood Mall was impressive.

There are two shopping malls in Roanoke: Tanglewood and Valley View. Valley View is near the airport and was so crowded last Saturday when we went to pick the kids up, it not only threatened to make us late for the first child’s arrival, but gave me flashbacks to living in the Northern Virginia area. (Tysons Corner-loving friends, can you relate?)

But we only had one real errand over on Electric Road today: to pick up some wine for our neighbors. They brought us an amazing pie, made with rhubarb from their garden (!) and how do you reciprocate that?

Well, lucky for us, they mentioned that they like to toast the return of the light on the Winter Solstice (which is tomorrow, y’all!).

I may have mentioned that some of the chain establishments that we knew and loved in Northern Virginia have not made it down here to the Blue Ridge. So, where I would previously have gone to Total Wine in Chantilly for a nice bottle of wine, I had to do a little research to find an enhanced selection around here.

Except the Virgnia’s Blue Ridge Twitter account did it for me, with a listing of the best local places to find holiday gifts. That’s how we found Barrel Chest Wine and Beer. It’s a beer store and a wine store and a bar! They were super helpful and located a tasty looking cabernet for my neighbors. They also carry Cougar Bait American Blonde Ale, from Lexington, KY’s Country Boy Brewing company, for us to bring to Jim’s family’s place on Cape Cod.

Now, as long as our neighbors don’t read my blog, the surprise won’t be ruined.