Out before 5.30 a.m. A wakening world, drowsily shrugging off the remnants of a restless sleep. Heat and darkness, breaking our dreams, the morning coming too soon and yet not soon enough.
Stretches complete and a gentle warm up. I was off down to the fields, a lone figure in the day.
No music, just the sound of the birds. A steady pace.. 160, to 165 suits me perfectly... down the hill, across the road and up the lane to the fields. The air, heavy this morning, thick and sweet and pollen-laden. The undergrowth in Rookery Wood, spilling in a green tangle, escaping from the confines of its plot and over the fence onto the pavement. Breathing steadily , lifting my feet and watching where I trod amongst the tangles, the shade from the trees, welcome, even at this early hour, and echoes of Laura, encouraging me to relax my shoulders, look ahead and run tall. I decided to cross the lane, hugging the shade under the overgrown pines in a hidden garden. Cool and scented, the sun has not broken through here yet and a grey squirrel dashes for cover up the nearest trunk. Up past the Steam railway and a detour. Up through the gate and along the Bridle Path.
This is often far too wet, overgrown and mud-rutted for safety, but today, bone -dry. The long grass snags at my legs as I run, through the ancient narrow bridleway; Rosebay Willow herb, jostling in a tumbled mass with the cow parsley and while nettles, hedges thick, verdant and perfumed. Honeysuckle tangles with the earliest of wild hedge-roses, and the, as yet, sour green bullets of the wonderfully useful sloe are making an appearance on our favourite tree. Autumn and winter seem a lifetime away, as I clear the relative cool of the hedged track and into an open stretch. This has got to be some of my favourite running, Following a dry narrow path way, a little uneven , but with care, perfectly enjoyable. Along and along I run, lightly and quickly, into the shade again, where the path leads into and through a wooded area leading to the next village. The bird song, is quite literally filling the air, drawing me, tantalisingly, into the secret depths, but the day moves on and home beckons, so I turn here and retrace my steps, running back, hopping through a stile onto the ridge, and down onto the lane again. Running for about an hour now.. still feeling fine
Quickly down the hill and through the gate into the big field. I know this path so well, I am sure I could run it blindfold ( I have run some of it backwards, as some of you know:)) My track way gets narrower by the day, but the path is dry and hard and I take the opportunity for a burst of speed to the Steam railway line. Out in the wideness of the land, the air feels lighter and clearer. The sun was warm, very warm and I stopped; water break.. Suddenly, high, high overhead, the most exquisite sound. As I searched the blueness above me, I saw a speck, suspended it seemed in the empty sky. A pure sound, with the clarity of perfection, radiating into the surrounding air. A Skylark. I was mesmerised. I stood for what seemed an age, listening to the power of the warbling song, which the bird repeated, and repeated as it hovered over the field. Truly wonderful. As ever, and those of you who know my ramblings, will understand...( I can hear you sighing.. she is off again)... my mind was filled with words, Wordsworth, no, not this time, Shelley...
Teach me half the gladness
that thy brain must know....
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then- as I am listening now.
Then, just as suddenly, the song stopped, and the speck seemed to vanish; I was beginning to feel the heat increasing and eager to make some shade again, so determined to 'finish in style', one last gulp of water, and across the track at a steady pace towards the lane for home. Over the shingle track and onto the lane. a full circle. As I jogged, very, very slowly, down towards the station, a car peeped at me. turning, I saw it was my daughter, on her way to work. Pretty as a picture, cool as a cucumber and with the sunshine glow of a mum-to be. " Do you want a lift, for the rest of the way home Mum?"
I was hot, I was pink, I was sorely, sorely tempted. But no... I am a runner, I came out for a run, and I will finish my run. So, one window kiss, and a hug, and she drove on her way.
I ran all the way, to the bottom of my hill, feeling calm, refreshed, and truly blessed. A run of pure delight; as our friend PippiRuns would say, Soul Balm.