1. On my run on Saturday, I was a little less than a half mile from home when I noticed a bird sitting on the sidewalk. This is hardly an unusual occurrence, so I didn’t think anything of it until I got closer and it stayed still. From a distance, I figured it was your typical house sparrow, but since it didn’t move, I got a better a look and quickly realized it wasn’t a house sparrow at all.
I thought stopping by the bird to take a picture would be enough to scare it away, but it wasn’t, at which point I realized I probably had a stunned bird on my hands. I chatted with it for a bit (as one does) and after a moment, it flew up onto a nearby windowsill. Well, rather, it attempted to (slowly) fly through the window, and upon realizing that that was not a possibility, settled for sitting on the windowsill instead.
I gently warned it that even though the window looked like it was fly-through-able, it was not, in fact, fly-through-able, and after another moment, it flew across the sidewalk into a tree. I figured all of that flying (and lost patience with my instance on befriending it) must’ve meant it was feeling okay, so I carried on with my run and, as soon as I got home, uploaded a picture to Merlin to find out what kind of bird I had seen. Turns out it was a female Common Yellowthroat. I’ve never even heard of the Common Yellowthroat, never mind seen one, so this was quite the occasion for my bird-loving self!
A brief analysis of the Cook County checklists on eBird also lists only one other sighting (on Monday) of a Common Yellowthroat, so this was apparently a super rare occurrence! That’s a nice feather to put in my birding cap (#puns). Anyway, the whole experience was quite exciting, and I seriously can’t believe I saw a bird like that in the city. I spent so many years thinking the only birds that lived in Chicago were starlings, pigeons, sparrows, and robins, but just in the past 10 months, I’ve learned that if you keep your eyes and ears open, you’d be astounded by what kind of avian life makes its home or passes through here.
2. Speaking of surprising nature sightings, I saw the WEIRDEST thing on Sunday, and I’m wondering if anyone can help fill me in on what I saw.
I was waiting for the El when I happened to look up and notice what kind of looked like a rainbow, but with some pretty major caveats, namely the fact that it hadn’t rained in…days? Weeks? so the conditions didn’t seem right, and, perhaps even more confusingly, the fact that it seemed to be going in a circle around the sun rather than in an arch across the sky. Additionally, I couldn’t see the rainbow at all with my bare eyes. When I took my sunglasses off, the clouds that the sun was lighting up were too bright to even look at, never mind see color. My sunglasses filtered out the brightness, though, so I was able to see the color. My phone also, apparently, could see the color just fine, hence the pictures.
I tried to Google what I saw on Sunday evening, and the only thing close to what I saw that I could find online was called a glory (named because it resembles the glow you see around saints’ heads in old paintings). There was a pretty major distinction between a glory and what I saw, though: glories are viewed from above. Your best chance of seeing one, from what I gathered, would be if you were in an airplane flying above clouds and your plane cast a shadow on those clouds. Then, you might see a glory around the shadow. You also might be able to see one if you were on a mountain above the cloud line. While the El is, what, 20 feet above street level? Thirty feet? it is most certainly not mountain high, never mind airplane high. To see a glory, the order of objects, from highest to lowest, should be the sun, you, then the glory. My order of objects was the sun, whatever light phenomenon I was seeing, then me.
This, then, leaves me with a burning question: what on earth did I see?? It obviously was some sort of refraction something or other caused by the clouds (that’s the other thing: the thing I saw was only visible on the clouds, not on the blue sky patches between the clouds), but I have no idea what it was! I would’ve thought maybe it was just something funky on my sunglasses, but if my sunglasses alone were the issue, I wouldn’t have been able to take a picture of it. I’m really curious, so if there are any amateur, uh, rainbow studiers out there, please let me know!
3. Well, I suppose we should chat a little about the elephant in the room, huh? The marathon is on Sunday, and after days of wildly varying forecasts (seriously, on Monday you could’ve taken your pick between a high of 82 and a high of 71, depending on which outlet you choose to believe), everyone seems to be reaching a consensus that it’s going to be in the high 70s and sunny. Fabulous. 😐
I have spent the entirety of my past two therapy sessions prattling on about my extensive array of feelings regarding this marathon training season (physically and socially), the marathon itself, and my future in marathoning (fear not: you, too, will be subjected to the written equivalent of a two-hour monologue from me regarding all of these things in the coming weeks). Needless to say, I have a lot–A. LOT.–of feelings about all of this, very few of which I’d file under a “positive” header. Because my feelings, of which there are so many, are primarily negative, it’s been difficult, to say the least, to come up with any meaningful goals for Sunday. The disappointing forecast certainly doesn’t help in that department, either (though to be fair, the high in Chicago on the day of the 2015 Chicago Marathon was 79 [and sunny], and the high in the Fox River area the day of the 2016 Fox Valley Marathon was 80 [and sunny], so at least I’ve been through this twice before. Heck, I even PRed in 2015. And then spent close to an hour in the med tent, but we’ll ignore that small detail 😛 ).
So, I’m heading into Sunday with no expectations, no hopes and dreams, no real desires other than to finish and not have my worst time ever. Really shooting for the stars over here, folks. Honestly, I kind of just want all of this to be over so I can get out of the marathon mindset, take a step back and really evaluate what I want to do moving forward. I have spent a significant portion of the last 18 weeks asking myself a lot of difficult questions (the root of which, every time, is why am I doing this?), and I need some time to really mull things over…and likely subject my therapist to more hour-long monologues related to these things.
Who’s running on Sunday?