The local wineries have put up signposts that point out the direction and distance to nearby wineries. (Don’t you love how they work together for the good of all? See, we can all get along in this world.)
A running friend who happens to live near one of these wineries saw a challenge in the posted distances: Run to each winery on the sign. She issued this invitation:
FINAL PLANS FOR WINERY RUN #1: Meet at 6 Mile Cellars at 7:45 am on Sunday, January 27th. We will run to Burch Farms. The sign says it is 5.1. Let’s hope that means road miles and not by how the crow flies.
I had just run long the day before and my calves were already angry at me for doing 10 miles in ice cleats on soft snow, so I didn’t commit to anything. I knew we’d be running a slower pace, but miles on snow are still miles on snow. I figured I’d just see how I felt in the morning.
I woke at 7:18 a.m. If I wanted to join them, I needed to leave in 8 minutes or less … and first I had to figure out how I was going to get a ride back home from Birch Farms in order to make it to church by 10 a.m. I didn’t want to make any of the group have to hurry their post-run fun and ferry me back to the start. As I hemmed and hawed, Dan said, “Well, I’ll come pick you up at 8:45 if you want to go.” (I love being married to a runner.)
Decision made, I raced through the house gathering my gear.
I sped off to Harborcreek and slowed only as I turned the corner onto Firman Road, fully expecting to see runners ahead. They were not to the bend yet. Good. When I crested the hill, I saw them heading across the street to the winery to start—a mass of black tights, shades of pink, and long hair peeking out from under winter hats.
I know only three of them by name, but no matter, we’ll get to know each other along the way.
“OK, I’m going to give each of you a dog bone,” Eloise says. “There are dogs at the end of the road that you can’t just run by. They are mean and I’d feel better if everyone had a bone.”
She didn’t mention the dogs on the invite. I’m afraid of dogs, but there is safety in numbers. I carry the Milkbone in my left hand (Why in all my years of running have I never thought to tuck a few dog bones in my pocket for loose dogs?) and deliberately stay on the right side of the group, farthest from the farmhouse on the left with the Blue Heelers from hell.
The dogs must have slept in. We pass by. After a half mile, I tuck the bone into my pocket.
The 5-mile route to Birch’s is via Depot Road — a twisty, turn-y road with virtually no birm that’s too dangerous for a gaggle of chattering girls to run, even at 8 a.m. on a Sunday.
For safety reasons, we choose
McHill McGill Road and encounter this:
The rumbling, scraping approach of a 4 ton (?) Pennsylvania snow-belt snowplow is a sound that strikes fear in the heart of this runner, second only to sound of jangling dog tags. Fortunately, it was light out. No doubt the driver saw us. He’d have to be blind not to. Still, we give him wide berth.
The group morphs over miles, constantly reshaping into smaller groups of two or three, sometimes four. We run side by side. Until a car comes and we’re forced to pause conversation and get in line.
As we approach Birch Farms, we run by more and more vineyards with gnarled brown vines tied to supports. We get a glimpse of the lake, down the hill, several miles north.
Dan is just pulling up as we finish. Perfect timing. We take a group photo to commemorate the Winery Run No. 1 before we go inside to shop (Burch’s opens at 7 a.m.!). Dan and I pick up butternut squash, apples, an Amish-made leather belt, and a homemade pecan pie.
When we get in the car, Dan asks who all the women were. Sadly, I know only one more of their names than I did when we started and that’s mostly because she has the same name as another woman in the group. We were all introduced; I just suck at remembering names.
No matter. I can just call them all “friend” now.
And there will be more winery runs — longer ones — and time to learn names and forge deeper friendships, sharing common ground—figuratively and literally.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”