Mary’s Handshake

“Mary, Mary, why you buggin’?”

“Proud Mary keep on burnin’.”

“Hail Mary, etc., etc…”

I promise this has something to do with something, but I’m not there yet.

You may have noticed in my last post that I hit a winter wall, and I’m ready for some change. When that change failed to make itself readily available to me as needed on Tuesday, I retreated into a shell on unmotivated slack.

My Tuesday spare time was to be spent doing a Zwift ride in the Not So Stankment, but I would have rather have taken a lead pipe and a blow torch to my bike rather than climb upon it to ride nowhere. After some deep brooding and self-flagellation, I finally found some motivation to do a quick walk in the woods in hopes that it would relieve my ongoing battle with élan vital 1

So, with a thimbleful of spunk, I headed out for a quick walk around my go-to woods at the Sylvan Solace Preserve.

I wandered, wondered, pondered, shot some photos, and skulked along the river banks with nothing but the sound of crunching snow beneath my feet, the cold wind through the leafless trees, the rippling waters of the Mighty Chipp, and the shutter button of my camera.

I was alone, so I thought, in the woods, and it felt great. It was just what I needed to un-fuck myself.

After I made my way up from the banks of the river, I continued my way along the main trail. Up ahead, I was surprised to see someone walking towards me. I could see it was an older woman happily hiking along.


As we drew closer, she said, “I’m pretty sure you have a better camera than I do; I just have my phone.”

I laughed and replied, “That’s just fine; the best camera is the one you have with you!”

She went on to say that this was her first time at the Preserve and how much she liked it. We briefly talked about the trails and her want of better snow and love of cross-country skiing before she extended her hand and introduced herself, “I’m Mary.” “Nice to meet you, Mary, I’m Jason.” We shook hands, and her left hand came over the top for the double-hand handshake, the type of handshake that I’ve only received from two others in my life— my father in law, and his late father.

The handshake immediately took me back to shaking the hand of my wife’s grandfather, and how he would take my hand in both of his, before asking me if I’m “still riding that bike.” Smiling with that twinkle in his eye that he always seemed to have. It was a handshake that was not that of male dominance and “don’t hurt my granddaughter, or I’ll kill you” (although he probably would have), but one of love and a way to say “relax kid, it’s all good, you’re family.”

Anyway, we shook hands, and then Mary and I parted ways. While the woods were doing their thing to snap me out of my funk, the pleasantries and warm handshake with a stranger along the trail did even more to boost my mood, bring back some fond memories, and for a moment help me to think “relax kid; it’s all good.”

I returned home with a few OK photos and a boosted mood. Ready to take on the task of un-fucking myself and dealing with my personal élan vital.


  1. The creative force within an organism that is responsible for growth, change, and necessary or desirable adaptations as introduced by French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941) and strongly admired by author Henry Miller (1891-1980), another of my favorites, especially his rants about art and creativity in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

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