Keep to the Right Except to Pass
When I go jogging in the park - early enough, no one passes me. If I go later, it seems like everyone passes me, but I love jogging Union Hill anyway – aware of the bird songs and the green shadows, and the scents wafting from the trees and the Kitkitdizze. Occasionally, I do pass someone, and then I feel faster. Funny.
My thoughts wander when I jog; I do not seem to have the desire to direct them. Sometimes, it seems as if I reflect only on what I sense; this state is very restful, but the irony of it, is that it is reserved for when I am expending a lot of energy.
When I was in my late teens, I decided to run over Fossil Hill and back. Not far, but steep and hot. I felt strong; I made a meal out of that hill, gobbling it with gusto – that is, until the heat began to affect me; then I began to feel weak and shaky. I made it home and collapsed on the front porch, hoping to cool myself on the cement. I did, and eventually I felt euphoric, a young adult without any cares. Everything seemed so simple.
I was the last of our party to climb out of LeConte Canyon into the Palisade Basin; everyone passed me, and I felt enervated long before I got to camp where I would need to muster enough energy to make camp, filter water, and cook. I talked to myself, coached myself, was kind to myself and tried to be proud of myself as I climbed . . . and climbed . . . and climbed.
“We've been here for quite awhile. Are you all right?” (My son.)
“All right, now that I'm here.”
“I keep to the right, except to pass.” (But I surprised myself once.)
Like I said, I surprised myself once. I had entered an “off limits” area in a state park in a quest for a certain plant with swollen pink-tinged bladder-like pods, a delicate locust-like plant that I wanted to identify. I was a little jumpy about being in a forbidden area, but I knew the area, and was confident that I could go undetected in my quest.
It was a quintessential autumn day: random dust devils, peppery scents, autumn colors, and helicopter seeds from the cedars. It was deliciously quiet – until . . . until I heard the sound of an engine – coming my way, down the trail/dirt road. Of course, I thought to hide, but hiding meant climbing through the Poison Oak . . . and so I ran – outrunning the vehicle to a place where I knew I would be hidden; a small clearing with a hiding place behind a fallen tree. I ran like a young person, leaping and skipping, hopping over branches and boulders, and then collapsed behind the fallen tree to hide and breathe. (I was impressed with myself as I crept to collect my leaves and lovely seed pods.)
With pride, I told Stu about my exploit. “It doesn't surprise me,” he said with that smile.
“I was actually fast for a change,” I insisted.
“You were a track star,” he reminded me. “A sprinter. Did you forget?”
“Passed on the left,” I reminded him.
(I still have not identified this exotic plant, and it has since been bulldozed into oblivion.)