Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Excerpt for a New Book, Keep to the Right

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.”
“What happened?”
“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.)

1 comment:

  1. You have much power. Not only in your legs and your body, but in your heart.