Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29: Last Bird in the Woods

After work I went for a trail run on Ragged Mountain, starting at the Snow Bowl. It's been a while since I've done a trail run. My lungs weren't quite up to the first stage, following the trail partway up the mountain before turning south into the woods. But once I could catch my breath, I settled in to enjoy the softness of the damp forest floor beneath my feet, the familiar earthy smells of leaf litter, mud, and moss, the punctuation marks of mushrooms after the weekend's rain, and the rocks and roots forcing me to pay attention to where I placed each foot. The recent storm had left a lot of branches strewn across the trail, as well, including one large, nut-laden beech branch.

It was only 6:00 pm but the woods were already darkening when I set out. The sun has begun to set noticeably sooner these days, with just a few days left in August. I couldn't tell if my few stumbles on my return run (it was an up/out-and-back/down route) were a result of not being able to see the shadowy trail so well or my general tiredness from bouncing off bumps and hillocks. The "come here" whistle of a pewee beckoned me onward. That was the only bird I heard so late in the day. But running that late was well worth it if just to see, as I reached the bottom of the mountain again, Bald Mountain green and glowing in the last sunlight, a lush backdrop for a field full of young soccer players.

Near the end of my run I also startled a woodchuck traversing across the ski slope. It paused to watch me for a moment, then bounded with surprising speed into the woods. Maybe instead of pretending I'm a deer or a wild cat on my trail runs, I should be emulating a woodchuck instead.

Pewee's low, clear call
summons me out of the woods
just before sunset.

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