by | 15 Nov, 2023 | Fungi, Landscape, Nature | 0 comments

Running, I think, is my favourite way to pay attention.

Sometimes it is difficult. Sometimes the muscles in my legs complain. But I keep going. Eventually, the discomfort eases. I find a rhythm, a pace which allows me to see.

I like to run on the bookends of the day. I have tried it in the middle, but even in winter I find the light, and warmth, too harsh. 

I relish it best in the morning, early, when the sun casts an amber glow on the landscape. When the air is cold, and my skin pimples like the skin of the Puffballs which bloom from the base of the older Oaks trees. When the lanes, rain-laden and watery, seem to run towards me, reflecting the sunlight like polished silver; open-mouthed puddles gaping at the sky. 

But I also enjoy racing nightfall, when the indigo darkness descends, as Rooks and Jackdaws return to their roosts, and all the land seems to hold its breath. 

Now, in November, the remaining leaves are turning. The Beech trees are golden, Oak sienna, Field Maple blonde. Mushrooms are lifting from the mulch, mulch so deep that when I step into it it reaches up to my ankles, which I do often, for I like to look closely at things. 

For a time, I tried to run faster, to challenge myself, break records. But I soon realised that this is not the reason I run. Running, for me, is not a competition. It is, in fact, more like a prayer.

And sometimes, when the gradient is right and my pace has reached a point of sublimity (which is, of course, brief) it feels as if I am flying, as if I have discovered the secret of perpetual motion. 

And in those moments, those fleeting, flawless moments, I am flooded with bliss. Everything balances, and I see the turning of things.

And when a car comes, or a van, driven by a person who doesn’t say thanks when I move aside for them, I feel anger brewing beneath my skin. But when I run it is a lesser anger. Exhaust fumes abate, cigarette smoke fades, and all that is left is the patter of my feet, the curl of my breath, and this miraculous world.