Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All Alone

I took a short run on the Smithville Lake trails today. I headed south along the shoreline and danced with the rocks a little faster than I had intended. The Mute Swan, dubbed "Crook" last weekend by my fellow Birrunderers, fed quietly in a cove. Silent. "Mute," one might say ... And rather alone.

Last Friday's birrundering (that's "birding while running" for the uninitiated) was the first time I had run with a group since high school. It was a nice way to pass the miles. Shelley asked me if I always run alone on trails. Of course, was my reply. She told me she runs alone, too, but pointed out that some people think it is foolhardy to go out on trails alone. You're isolated. You're vulnerable. What if...?
Being on the trails never seemed strange to me, because my time spent outdoors—alone—goes back farther than that. I have spent the last 12 years looking for birds in quiet, isolated places. Standing on the banks of the Mississippi. Watching ducks for hours from the shore of Smithville Lake. Bushwhacking through cane stands along the Eleven Point River in Missouri's Ozarks. All that time spent exploring, and most of that time I was alone.

But it goes back farther than that. Before running, before birding, I was a little girl. An only child. Creeping through the woods behind my parent's house. Splashing through the creek. Sitting quietly beside the pond. A constant narrative ran through my mind, my imagination conjuring up tales of magic and adventure. Out on those back acres, I was alone.

So today, here I am. Running through a sea of fallen leaves, the golden sunset glancing off the lake to set the woods on fire. Just as I have always been. Yes: alone. But also surrounded by so many fantastic sights and constantly engaged in such adventure that the words isolated and vulnerable and what if... take on less importance. I tuck those words away, let them keep close company with my awareness and common sense—and I live in this one moment that was made for me. Alone.


Erika said...

Wow. I've never read your writing, unless you count FaceBook updates. This was so nice... thanks for sharing it!


Happy Trails said...

I love your writing and your pictures. I love to run alone too. Your life sounds so awesome and peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

laurie said...

I love running alone!