February ended moments ago and if I’m going to keep up with what I’ve been doing then I need to find a new masthead for March, but before I do let me explain the current one, Walker Road. A two-minute jog from my development, I have spent many, many hours on this road by foot, by bike, and by car. It’s the by foot and by bike experiences that stir up a sense of nostalgia within me. We live on the border of highly developed land and rolling country farm land. Walker Road celebrates this close-to-country feel, so when I am out training here I love to breathe in the peaceful, simple air and enjoy the homes with yards that do not live under the rule of a developer.
I’ve even come to enjoy the company of the horse-like dog that chases me while bellowing a ferocious bark – well, that is, he chases me as far as he can on his side of the fence. At first I was terrified by the beast, since I’ve been twice bitten by dogs, but now I pretend we’re friends, and in between breaths as I run or ride past I call to him in motherese, “Hi, Pup! How’s my pup? Gooood, puppy pup!” I can tell this confuses him, like how could his prey seem so loving? One day he will learn to jump the fence and will either eat my face or exfoliate it with a sloppy, friendly lick. Every time I run by I wonder if today is the day I will find out if we’re friends or foes. Mental note: start carrying steak in hydration belt. And bear spray.
Like a no-nonsense friend, Walker Road is honest. So brutally honest. Without inhibition it will tell me what kind of shape I’m in, and its words have not always been kind. There are portions of the road that are subtly hilly, and there are sections that are unmistakably steep. The hill at the end of the road, for example, is so steep that on more than one bike ride I have pumped my weary legs at a pathetic 3.8 mph while trying to climb it. This is so slow that my front wheel wobbles back and forth to keep me from falling over during the brief moments that I am actually motionless in between pedals. Coming down this hill I have gained speeds over 35 mph, which is challenging in its own right.
There is a creepy stand-alone garage along the road in which I always imagine a serial killer resides, so as I run or ride by I scheme my survival, just in case I’m right. When I hear rustling leaves on another stretch of the road I imagine a wild cat living in the woods and again I plan accordingly. I usually moo at the couple of cows that seem very out of place in the yard of one home, and make up stories to explain why no one has ever been seen using the outdoor swimming pool at another. The water in the ponds and little creeks looks refreshing albeit completely undrinkable. The open fields and trees are rather simple, yet I can’t help but stare as I go past.
There’s a barn that stands against the road. Not sure why I love it, and until I took a picture of it this past month I couldn’t even remember what color it was. In my mind its walls are blank slates that change colors, like a mood ring varying by my emotional state. Whatever color, the sun strikes the building perfectly and it somehow inspires me to endure or to smile or to pray or to set goals or to count my blessings. I’m not necessarily a barn person, but have found raw, rousing beauty in this one.
Maybe that’s why I set Walker Road as the masthead for February. February can be a doozy of a month. It can be cold. It can be gloomy. But these pictures remind me that even during a hard run we can find things that inspire us to endure…to smile…to count our blessings.