I love the fall. I love everything about it, from the cool, crisp mornings to the warm sunny afternoons. I particularly love to run in the fall, when it is still light early enough for me to get out and back before my kids wake up, the dogs racing joyfully around my feet and bounding through the dewy alfalfa like deer until I leash them at the road to finish my loop through the nearby suburbia. The chill in the air makes my slow pace seem like flying (well, that’s a big exaggeration) but it is exhilarating.
I don’t run every day, nearly, but I do most weekends unless there is a horse show.
I always run alone. I enjoy the solitude of it.
Today was different though. For some reason when Batman heard me open the front door to leave, he ran out of his room and begged to go with me. It was not the first time he had asked, but it was the first time I said yes.
You see, running’s my thing. It’s one of the few things I do just for me, like yoga, and I cherish the solitude of my thoughts accompanied only by the slow steady pounding of my Asic-clad feet. I usually take one or both of the dogs with me, but this was the first time in recent memory I was accompanied by one of the kids on my solitary pursuit.
After ten minutes of preparation which included changing his basketball shorts for sweat pants, adding a fleece jacket and, at the last minute, switching his cowboy boots out for a pair of running shoes, Batman and I headed out.
We jogged a ways down the gravel road that fronts our house, past the first hay field, then walked a ways through a muddy access road and through another hay field to the canal bank that runs east of our house.
Batman loves to go down the canal bank, even though I’m always harping at him to stay on the far track away from the water’s edge. You can see how well he listens to me.
Canals are really, really dangerous.
Unless you’re Winston, that is. Then they’re just a big ol’ swimming pool.
Milo tried and tried to talk himself into jumping into the big ditch. But he couldn’t get it done. He just stood on the edge and looked wistfully at the cold, cold water.
Hey Milo – it is only 45 degrees outside right now. Maybe you didn’t make a bad choice.
After a half mile or so down the canal bank we made a turn onto the sidewalk to continue our circle. Batman is fascinated by sidewalks, since there are none of them directly around our rural homestead. When we started walking on the sidewalk he said incredulously “Wow! So we get to walk through a NEIGHBORHOOD?”
Yep. Lots of them.
We walked and jogged, walked and jogged. It wasn’t long before Batman was pretty tired, and we walked more than jogged. He talked the whole time, about things at school, his hamster, what we were going to do for the rest of the day, like that.
After another mile or so we turned a corner down another street. When we turned, Batman said “Mom, have you been down this street before when you ran?” Yes, I answered. Lots of times. “How many times do you think? Twenty?” Yeah, probably twenty or so, I said.
“Hmmm. So everything on this street must look really familiar to you, huh?”
Well, that stopped me in my tracks for a minute.
Actually it didn’t.
Usually when I am out for a run I am thinking of a million things other than what I am doing. I find it enjoyable and cathartic to just pound along, but I am obviously not being very mindful of the moment. As I gazed around at the some of the tidy houses we strolled past I saw new things, through the observant eyes of my six-year-old.
There were a handful of purple flowers growing right out of the grass of a nearby lawn.
There were mud puddles here and there along the gutter, and he was pretty fascinated when I told him it was from the runoff of sprinklers in the yards along the street.
He wondered if people had mail in their mailboxes, why did their dogs bark so much, why did that man honk his horn at the other man washing his truck in the driveway, what if we turned down that road by accident and then had to walk all the way back to where we were supposed to be?
The innocent observations of my first grader were pretty refreshing. I laughed and talked and answered the multitude of questions as best I could.
He got tired when we were about a quarter-mile from home. But that didn’t bother him. He just sat down and rested.
Kids are so smart.
We completed the loop that usually takes me about 35 minutes in a little over an hour. But it was time well spent. It was all new through the eyes of a child.