My alarm goes off. Its mechanic mouth more jarring here, in the forest, than in the city. I can feel my running shoes rattling downstairs so I set tea to the stove and busy myself with getting ready. 16 miles – my last long run before my ultramarathon next weekend. The run was as conventional as long runs go. Sweat, water, trees, a wrong turn here & there, and the sound of feet scraping gravel. It’s both who you are when you start the run and who you are at the end that matters.

This wasn’t a trip for the forest or for the romantic feeling one gets from being in nature. I spent most the day slumped on the couch finishing my book, laughing with Quincy’s parents, or hearing about how there is a loaf of austin-bread, or vegan bread, on the counter waiting for me to munch on. This summer there has been more days of heat than sun. I know that lately, I spend all too much time reminding myself not to worry about what will be instead of just being.

I’m in the family room. Maverick, the dog, is stretched out on the hardwood floor near the entryway. Quincy’s parents are getting ready to go out for dinner and I am waiting for the thunderstorm. I can feel it in my bones so I am wrapped up in a sweatshirt. I’m not sure if families that aren’t your own know of the little ways they make you feel at home. I’m not sure if I understand it either.

There is so much heart in this home. For a second, I am a part of it all – the eating, the laughing, the talking, the planning – and I am grateful. My shoes are drying out in the corner, tired and wet from a hard morning on the road. Quincy’s parents have left, he is upstairs planning his next move and I am here, just being.

This weekend I have more gratitude for the quiet, for the slowing down of it all, for the austin-bread that is so much more than a simple loaf of yeast & flour. For a moment, I know what gratitude feels like. I want to keep it with me like a slow Sunday afternoon bundled up in the forest.