“Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get.”

~Mark Twain

Last week, I gave a talk on sustainability and regenerative viticultural practices in the Napa Valley. A lot of what I shared in my talk, and much of what I’m writing about in my book at the moment which is due out next year, is about climate change. A week ago, our kids were trick-or-treating in seventy-degree temperatures I remember that when I was young, I often trick-or-treated in the snow (walking uphill all the time, of course) and preferred a ninja costume because of the face mask that would help keep me warm. Climate change won’t be the end of me, but as a parent—and a human—I can’t help but be deeply concerned by it. As I wrap up my book on the Napa Valley, fire, drought, erratic temperatures, new highs and so much more are making the industry harder and hard to maintain. I’m glad I get to do some work in this area, to bring attention to the issues, but I wish that there was more that I could do.

I still check the weather in Kandahar from time to time on my phone. This time of year, their temperatures are pretty similar to those we experience in the American Midwest. In fact, this week, the weather in the part of Afghanistan is remarkably consistent, ranging from the low forties to the high sixties almost every day, with daily sunshine and no precipitation predicted. It’s not as erratic as the weather here in Nebraska, and I wonder sometimes how that reality impacts those who move here. It must seem very deceptive to those who are used to seemingly more predictable weather to live in a place where it can be seventy degrees and sunny on afternoon and seven degrees and snowing the next morning. It’s hard to plan for, as if the lives of those who move to Nebraska from Afghanistan—or any other nation—weren’t complicated enough.

Cindy reached out to tell me that the new Afghan Community Center is opening in Omaha soon. They need volunteers. I’m trying to figure out how, with a full teaching load and publishing deadlines looming among so many other obligations, I can find more time in the day to fit that in. I used to make more time in the day by waking up earlier and earlier every morning, until at one point I was waking up at 3:45AM each day. That was no good for anyone, and the older I get the more rest I require. If you happen to live in or near Omaha and want to volunteer at the new Afghan Community Center, here’s the link to their Facebook page:  https://facebook.com/events/s/afghan-culture-night/2423669814453783/

As running goes, I ended up taking Monday off this week, the last day of October and my third day of rest in a row. In the month of October, I ended up running a modest 136.5 miles, my second-lowest monthly total of the year, despite having run back-to-back marathons. In fact, more than despite that, it was because of it. Between the taper leading up to those races and the rest required to recover from them, it’s a miracle I was able to run as much as I did. This past week, beginning Tuesday the first, I got back into a steadier routine, running daily and feeling my body get used to the demands of it again.

Friday the family and I headed down to Kansas City and stayed with some friends. Saturday morning, I paced the Longview Half Marathon. It was a wicked thirty-something degrees that morning, and because it was the day before daylight savings, it was pitch black when we arrived at the lake with almost no lights to be found anywhere. Not only was it cold, the wind was brutal, amplifying the effects of the temperature. When the rain turned to sleet as I was pinning on my bib, I bristled and put on another layer of clothing. When the sleet turned to enormous, wet snowflakes at the starting line, I chuckled wryly. It was going to be a rough one. I paced the two-hour group and we went out at an easy pace, knowing we’d make up the time when the group go warmed up. I was the lead pacer, and my group was amazing. The two-hour group is often popular as that’s a common time goal for many. I had a score of runners around me for most of the race, including many who were running their first half marathon ever. At mile eleven, most broke free of me and sped up. I finished in 1:59:58 unofficially, with a group of five, and I was honored to find many from my group had waited at the finish to thank me. We swapped a few hugs, I congratulated them, grabbed a couple slices of pizza and headed to my car to join my family for the Husker game.

Sunday morning, my friend Brian and I drove to Lawrence to run the Kansas Half Marathon. I was pacing the 2:05 group this time, but I took the trail role. We had a solid pack through mile six or seven, but then they spaced out. For much of the latter part of the race, I had a small group of four or five, and by mile ten I was with a lone runner, Sarah, who was fighting hard to hold our pace and doing an amazing job of it. Sarah finished her first half marathon ever, and Brian and I sat with some of my fellow pacers, eating a banana and chatting before we headed back. Brian had broken free of our pack earlier to do his own thing, which I totally get. He and I are running the St. Jude Marathon in less than a month, and more than anything he needs to feel strong and confident. We both do.

So far this year, I’ve raised a little over $3,400.  Thank you to those who support my efforts to raise money for Afghans resettling here in Nebraska. The week ahead is packed with meetings, but I’m going to do what I can to pack it with miles as well. If you’d like to make a donation to join me in supporting Afghans in Nebraska, below is the link. Thank you, and have a great week. https://www.fanangel.com/donate/2315

~Mark

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