The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

I love that poem so much. Never mind that I came across it because Alan Alda quoted (and misattributed) it on an episode of ER and I… well I would say I Googled it but I don’t think I used Google in 1999.

Friday and Saturday I got out for shorter runs, proving that it only takes one day to get back into the habit of running, even after taking several days off.

Friday I rewarded myself after a crappy day at school with a run through Hartley Nature Center. It was precisely what I needed mentally. Since it has been warm here and we’ve had some rain, the trails were starting to come alive. Little shoots and buds of green were everywhere, and it smelled lovely. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot (I didn’t start until early evening). More trails are open now, so I got to take a different route this time around. The only downside was hiking up the back side of Rock Knob and looking up to see a couple of guys peeing. I mean, the trail was right there, guys. Come on.

Saturday my plan was to head out and do some controlled hill repeats, instead of my usual “run as fast as you can stand” hill repeats. It was early evening again when I ran (6:30 or so), but still plenty light out. I did two repeats and held back a bit each time, then jogged back down. I made sure my heart rate was under the requisite 142 by the time I got back to the bottom, which in the past had sometimes required walking back down.

I was halfway up the hill for the third try and I saw a deer. Then two more. I see deer all the time when I am running, and they just go on their merry way when they see me. If they don’t, I usually say something like “Hello, deer” and sort of wave my arms a bit and they trot away. Two of the deer edged away, but this other deer wasn’t bothered.

The deer was closer than it looks in this photo, in which it is almost indistinguishable from the background. I paused my watch for a bit while I took a picture and thought about what I was going to do. The deer started to slowly move toward me and that’s when I turned around for good and got the hell out of there. (I started my watch again, because I had my wits about me!) I got across the street and the deer was still following me and looked like it might consider crossing the street, so I booked it up the hill, looking over my shoulder every so often to see if the deer was trying to catch up. It wasn’t, so that was good, but it was still a weird experience. I also saw some kind of dead, half-eaten bird and a dead raccoon, so that was nice.

I really do enjoy seeing (live) animals while I am running. I saw a bear last summer about two blocks from my house, a very exciting occurrence. It was the middle of summer, so I wasn’t really that concerned and ran right by it. This lady in her truck was yelling at me to warn me, but a bear by itself that has been chowing down on garbage and pick-a-nick baskets all summer isn’t going to eat me. A bear in early spring or a bear with cubs would frighten me. I also found a cat on the Lakewalk last fall, which I didn’t enjoy because it was clearly domesticated and had no claws (which I know because I carried it 2 miles) and had obviously been dumped there by the dregs of humanity. Other than the poor cat, the flora and fauna of the northland are part of what makes running up here so pleasant.

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