notes on first pre-dawn run of the season
Note#1: Hear the coyotes? Chris asked. In the distance, a muffled barking. During one run last year, the howling of coy dogs followed me the entire way, getting closer and further and closer again. I growled back and ripped off barks in a lame attempt to scare them. Oh, those are geese, Chris corrected herself. Or flying coyotes, I joked. We set off into the dark. I couldn’t help thinking we are so fucked.
Note #2: After months on the treadmill, it's a shock to hit a surface that doesn't move, like stepping onto a dead escalator; just you and your legs now, dude.
Note #3: Thick fresh gravel had been spread and reminded me of running down a railroad bed; it would be a half hour before it was light enough to find a smooth groove; until then, my feet were running across knuckles, the ground giving me noogies every step of the way.
Note #4: At the edge of a farm field, truck and tractor ruts shine with rainwater, long jagged gouges. In this thin light, clawed-footed dinosaur tracks. When the birds suddenly go quiet, I half-expect to see the puddles trembling, then shake, before I’m scooped up by a sandpapery tongue and swallowed with little notice or satisfaction.
Note #5: Through the skeletal treeline, I spy the slow-moving train from Rutland nudging a ball of light down the tracks.
Note #6: The pale sky just above the mountain range is bruising hard -- pink, brown, grey. Recoiling or ready to spring, I can't tell which.
Note #7: Down a long straightaway, I think of how Indian runners carried water in their mouths as they ran desert miles, breathing only through their noses. I think of how tribes sneaked up on enemy camps by sprinting across fields in short bursts and stopping together on a dime, mimicking the sound of the wind. I try closing my mouth but I'm too modern.
Note #8: I reach the swamp and turn around, heading back east. I’m almost shocked at what greets me. The sky has been slit open as if with a scalpel, spilling pinks and reds, bright and burning, like blood hitting water. This scene will last but a moment, then disappear forever. Just like me.