The Summer Forest

This morning, the sun flowed into the Mt. Erie forest, bringing dawn coolness as I climbed from the trailhead to the mountaintop.  Later, the sun would stream with the heat of afternoon through my living room’s open windows, making me glad I’d gone to the trails early.  The going was slow for many reasons: I’m old, I’m starting over again, I was waiting for John, the woods were summer-scented and visually stunning.

The boggy bottoms where the skunk cabbage stunk up the air a month or two ago were mostly muddy, decaying vegetation heading already towards fall and winter.  An inch above the mud, swarms of mosquitoes kept me moving forward.  In several places, I had to duck the drapes of ocean spray flowers that dangled over the trail.  It’s a good year for ocean spray.  The forest floor unrolled in buds of periwinkle blue, delicate white, bold yellow, and pale lilac.  I’ll have to return with the camera soon.

I find solace beneath the trees.  A part of me wants to linger, to run gently.  But I’m finding that my runner brain has been kicking in a little more lately.  I’ve set some mileage goals and some time goals.  I’m keeping track again.  I remind myself that I’ve won my age division or better in every decade I’ve been running.  I’m wondering if I have another 50K in me in this my seventh decade.  I’ve even checked some race results for ultras in the area.  There are some fast 70-79 age-group women out there running.  I’m impressed and inspired.

The last time John and I went walking, two days before he died, we managed about 100 meters.  So I have a ways to go.  And I’ll miss my coach.  Some days are very lonely out there under the trees.  Some days I talk to John while I’m heading up the trail.  And some days, like this morning, I talk to the trees.  It’s a journey.  For all of us.

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