Carolina Dawn

My fingers are clumsy with cold as I type this. The clocks ‘fall back’ this night, but since my body clock doesn’t know that, I set out for my morning run in total darkness – in a six o’clock that was really five. A little cup of moon provided what light there was, and orientation came courtesy of the Ursae and Orion.

You can rely on Rick to have the roads in good repair, so my feet lopped along the invisible dirt road with confidence, though my ankles are alert to the odd offsetting stone. I haven’t run for a couple of weeks – exercise has been provided by getting the docks in, the boats put away, the summer tied up and ended, culminating in the chain-saw extravaganza that produced our wood for the ’08 – ’09 season. Several hours of holding that noisy machine out in front of me, and my body feels fine. Every year in July the hay shows up, and we swing 500 bales into the loft for the horses and rabbits. I measure my physical aging by how much I feel it in the ensuing days. But this day of harvesting trees was great. And that reminds me of Misty, who stomped away in righteous protest at 7 when we cut down a pine in her presence. I have been in the company of a bunch of vegans last week, and I love to tease them about how the plants feel about being pulled out of the ground. You have to come to terms with eating, with making part of the universe into yourself …

I digress, but this is how your mind goes when you are running, easily down tracks of thought and memory. Reaching the road, I ran up the middle – no cars this Sunday morning. Dogs announced my progress, the cows at a nearby farm started lowing, and deer clicked across the tarmac and disappear into the woods with their high white asses.

As the pink started to glow above the line of trees in front of me, I came across two horses. Traveling, as great as the work is, and as much as I enjoy having all these different people in my life, is animal-free, for the most part. My home life is full of them thanks to Quan – rabbits to doctor, cats on the bed, horses to feed – but on the road, it’s just people, and they are a most unsatisfying animal. The black one will have nothing to do with me, but the paint comes over for a nuzzle and conversation. The warm sweet breath, the mobile lips exploring my hand, his curiosity about my shirt, his search for an apple but I have nothing. If I can I’ll steal an apple for tomorrow and make a new friend.

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