The 4.0 Challenge: Take One

So fellow travelers, a fellow member of the Bedlam Farm creative group recently posted a challenge for us.  Glenn Curtis is an AMAZING photographer, excellent writer and fabulous chef…oh yeah and he has a wonderful dog named Elka.  Glenn tantalizes us with his gourmet cooking, draws us in with his descriptive writing and inspires awe with his superlative photography.  Don’t take my word for it, check out his blog, seeing, reading and eating (he shares recipes) is believing.

Glenn’s challenge is called 4.0.  The idea is to set your odometer to zero and then drive exactly 4.0 miles ( not 3.9,not 4.1,  FOUR POINT ZERO) stop and look, really look at what is there to inspire a photograph, poem or bit of bloggery.

As he does with his blog, Glenn’s intention is to get us to experience something new.  As people began to post their photos and accompanying stories there were some common themes.  Many set out with a specific destination in mind, only to find that location was either just over or under the requiste 4.0 mile marker.  Yet, true to our group’s spirit, participants persisted until they found something post worthy, whether that meant making the best of the location they ended at or heading out on a different route.

Since we have a three driver/two car household with a happily employed soon to be college student, I have to take my driving options when I can get them which meant I had to wait a few days after the challenge posted to hit the road. As posts cropped up I took note of how people made the most of their experiences. Knowing I might only have one or two chances this week to try my luck I thought a great deal about which routes to take on my first run.

As luck would have it, my first run came on a sunny, warm day….well ok normally 45° F isn’t warm but after the January-February five week run of temps below freezing it felt like heaven…besides the SUN was SHINING, a seasonally rare occurrence in Syracuse.  I grabbed my camera, zeroed my odometer and headed up our road to the scenic bridge and river outlooks I anticipated would be at 4.0.

Yup, just like my fellow challenge takers discovered, the result was “close but missing the mark.”  The bridge was too soon and the scenic lookout was too far.  What turned up at 4.0 was a sharp bend with no shoulder on either side. No, I would not be stopping here.

I backtracked to mile 3.2 where a turn onto a side road would take me to the head of a walking trail.  Only the road ended at 3.8 miles and the massive snowbank plowed up against the gate at the trailhead made it impossible to walk the final two tenths of a mile. Drats. Foiled again.

But wait….what was that I was hearing just up the trail?  Could it be?

YES!  the unmistakable “zingy” twitter of RED WING BLACKBIRDS.  I could just make out their dark forms restlessly flitting around two large trees up the road.  Too far for even my telephoto lens to get any kind of shot, but my heart sang with joy because the return of the redwings is a definitive sign of spring.  And as my heart sang, the song turned into this haiku:

Zhreee chuck chuck zhree zhing!

Spring has landed in the trees

Redwings have returned



(Listen…can you hear them?  Right through those trees ……)


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Deborah H Rahalski

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