Rambling Roads: Christmas Journeys

by George A. Hancock

December begins her 31-day run early on a Sunday morning. Time is a constant force. We steadily move along. Time neither speeds up nor slows down. Although many runners believe time creeps along while climbing steep grades or moving through a rolling course. Time is a matter of perception.

Yet, certain points are evident now. Year 2019 is nearly complete. The holiday season is here. Winter is, or will soon, embrace our running forays.

December 1 also begins Meteorological Winter. This record-keeping season runs through February 29, 2020. Weather scientists and meteorologists used this time frame for a more accurate seasonal weather keeping system. And yes, 2020 is a Leap Year so February has an extra day. Traditionalists celebrate or morn the first winter day on December 21. This date is the Winter Solstice. I celebrate the Winter Solstice because after this date our sun begins its journey back to longer daylight hours. The journey is long but steady. A noticeable late January treat.

Many decry the never-ending Christmas season. However, this runner enjoys viewing those bright colorful holiday displays during my early morning runs. The twinkling lights illuminate my way along the dark December roads.

Many local communities go out of their way to create delightful Christmas scenes. Johnstown’s Central Park is a magical Christmas treat. A huge Christmas tree with dazzling lights and synchronized music dominates the park. Many runners, walkers, and curious visitors gravitate to the park for a delightful visit.

Windber, located a short run from my home, also creates bright displays along Graham Avenue. The park near the borough building has a delightful Christmas display. Christmas music also resounds from these displays. Running past earns a holiday smile.

The other homes and business locations along this long Graham Avenue corridor are also decorated for the Christmas holiday. Folks enjoy these bright displays. Christmas is a nice reprieve before we continue our January and February winter journey.

This veteran runner no longer yearns for a white Christmas. Santa arriving in shorts on dry roads is fine. Cold snowy road conditions are not appreciated during my morning run. Sure, a freshly fallen white snow creates a beautiful postcard scene. But dodging sliding traffic on untreated roads is never fun. 

Ice and snow spikes are mandatory now for any of my winter weather runs. I run alert, monitoring the traffic around me. I can stop faster than any slip-sliding vehicle during my run. My local terrain features numerous grades, hills, and twisting, turning roads. Dry roads insure safe passage for all.

Sometimes on weekend runs when traffic is sparse I can review, mull, or dissect the news. Our final month brings news recaps. The top yearly stories and events are reviewed. I especially enjoy reading the weather recaps. Weather these days has a huge influence on our lives.

Reviewing the weather events across our nation is sad and enlightening. We study, we review, and plan for similar weather events in our region.

The sheer cost of these weather events is staggering. These costs have attracted political attention. A recent news report revealed ten 2019 weather events topped the billion-dollar mark. That’s a lot of money. It’s no wonder politicians are speaking out about these expensive weather events. Of course, folks touched by these weather issues are left wondering what’s next.

Insurance companies are also balking, hedging with insurance payouts. Their thought is why make a settlement if that same region faces a similar future catastrophic weather event.

California, scene of recent wildfires, is currently in the news. These expensive wildfires have irked the White House. The current political thought is California needs to do more to prevent these expensive wildfires. Yet one wonders how states can do more to prevent or deal with weather emergencies.

All this rhetoric is small consolation to those folks who lost everything in a weather disaster. These individuals face a bleak Christmas. What do you do? Where do you go?

California has a large running community. I just can’t imagine running near that wildfire smoke. The winds move that choking smoke far from the initial source.

Other regions that suffered Mother Nature’s wrath also face a bleak Christmas season. So, in review we find a huge variance in Christmas journeys across our nation. Bleak and somber tones will color some Christmas holidays. Others will enjoy a traditional Christmas season.

The Greater Johnstown region was spared destructive weather issues this year. Our summer to fall weather conditions were perhaps the best ever. Running every day was an enjoyable endeavor.

Everything is a matter of perspective. Is our glass half full or half empty? 2019 is ending soon. Year 2020 is waiting off stage. We are moving on. Are you ready? 

Run well, run smart. Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year from Greater Johnstown!

Categories: Features

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