Today, awash in self pity about my bad leg, I scanned the eMos for another one that I might republish. I came upon this one, from 2003 -- looks like it was written on Thanksgiving Day. That was when I could run, when I could do a lot of things I can't do now. Will I ever be able to do those things again? Well, some of them, maybe. Will I be able to run? Probably not. But I can remember what it was like.
A RUN IN THE WOODS
November 27, 2003
A brisk walk sometime today, for sure, while the turkey roasts. My girls are so old now, I don't have to make every dish myself, so preparing the Thanksgiving dinner is not as Wagnerian as it once was. And Curves tomorrow -- it'll be packed with repentant women, I'm sure. If it's just too crowded, I'll go to the Y and row. But the Y will also be packed with penitents. The day after Thanksgiving is a big day.
I would like to run today. Once in a while I do run, but my arthritic knee always resents it: running does real damage, damage I can feel after a run. I should never run.
But what a joy it is while I'm doing it! You eat up the ground in front of you with your stride. The scenery ahead comes closer with each step; in only a minute or two, you're far away from home. Your aching knees don't ache while you're running, not at first --- for a while, you feel as flexible as you did when you were young. You feel strong. You feel your heart beating dependably, beating hard. You meet another runner and rise one hand in silent collegiality. Your ego is in line, for a change: you don't even mind that he's faster than you are. Everyone is faster than you are. You don't care. You're out there.
And then you're in the woods. Your feet pick their way among tree roots and rocks in the path; branches catch your jacket as you pass. Birds and squirrels ignore you. The bark of trees is black, and their arms reach awkwardly toward the grey winter sky. Where did you run today? Q will ask. Oh, I just ran around, I say. I just run around. In and out of the woods. I see gardens and trees in peoples' front yards. I see cats securing the perimeters of their yards, and dogs walking their people on leashes. I see peoples' gardens: few flowers now, but interesting stark sculptures of leaf and stalk for the winter. I see golden leaves still on some trees, and inviting piles of brown ones on the ground: we used to love to jump in piles of leaves when I was a girl, and when my two little girls turned out to have autumn birthdays, we always jumped in piles of leaves at their birthday parties.
I just run around. Then I come back, walking the last block or so to cool down. I'll pay for it, I know, so I don't do it very often. I do gentler things, old lady things. I do Curves, where lots of people have arthritis and all the exercise is low-impact. Curves is every bit as much fun as running.
But it's not as wild. You're not outside. You don't go anywhere. There's no wind. That's what I miss. That's what I'm going to do today, even if it's bad for me and even if I regret it afterward. Nobody's going to miss me for forty minutes. And I can still run. Sometimes you like to do something just because you still can. Thanks be to God.
Copyright © 2003 Barbara Crafton