After several days of waking up with a headache and going through the day with a strange feeling in my gut, wondering if it’s a new virus or something in my diet, I decided to sweat it out. Can’t do that by housework alone, so I left one son to watch over the other while I hit the road and trail. I took my old dog to trail along. He’s always eager when I jingle the leash, but when we get going, trail he does, out of an ingrained fear of sound and movement of any kind. This time it was a distant chainsaw at work, then a dog barking behind a fence, then the usual cars passing. He’s a shelter dog, somehow sonically traumatized as a pup, and he cannot enjoy life on the trail as, even so, I can see means to.
My feet started to hurt on the hard road section, and I tried to get my momentum more forward rather than down. At the bottom of the hill I entered a fog bank, which cloaked my movements and cooled my skin. I detoured into the park and onto the more foot-friendly trail.
Everywhere the colors came and met me. Then, as if someone had blown soap bubbles into my mind, descriptive words materialized and drifted along my mental convection currents, grouping themselves in beats. Yellow-brown, yellow-gold, hanging in the cold. Evergreen, sage green, grey sky between. Punching red, frothing red, not yet dead. Orange blushing, orange burning, world turning.
If I start to think hard, I automatically slow to a walk until I can untangle my mind. But this time I was free to go on, playing with words as I took in these visions. My steps felt clumsy as I tired, but I don’t remember the gravelly sound they must have made, only the papery rustle of bigleaf maple leaves I ran through. Once when I slowed to a walk save my knees on a down section, a dozen birch leaves suddenly released themselves, without wind, as if a latch had been pressed somewhere: latch release, piece by piece.
Oh, how I wanted a notebook and pencil. But I remembered my father saying, as he looked back on many years spent photographing, painting, and writing moments and memories, that one must not value the recording over the experience. It can be about savoring and prolonging the experience, plumbing its meaning, and sharing, however. What if I had not read Annie Dillard, who reminded me how to see, for example, or seen the Group of Seven paintings, so I would long to go canoeing in the Canadian Shield? At times one cannot help oneself, thank heaven, or help oneself thank heaven.
When I got home, my older son asked how my run had been–had I enjoyed all the beautiful colors of the leaves? Remarkable that he asked in that particular way, as I had as yet said nothing. So I told him, and he declared he would start out early to his bus rendezvous so he could enjoy them too.
Before heading to shower off, I took a sheet of paper and jotted down a few words and phrases, hoping to make a few lines. I think tomorrow instead of table lessons, I’ll walk the trail with my naturally enthusiastic and poetic youngest son, with notebook and watercolors, and we’ll see what further savoring together will bring forth.