We’re finally into flat-out, full-bore, blossom-laden Spring in my part of the world! We haven’t had any freezing temperatures for weeks now, the sun is high enough to quickly warm even the coolest mornings and every living thing is in motion. I took a long run along the river over the weekend, just to listen and smell and hear the magnificence of Spring in northeastern Iowa.
The water is flowing freely right now, the beneficiary of snow melt and early rains. The water is clear at the moment- no chemicals in the mix as yet-and not yet affected by the farm field runoff which still carries too much valuable soil and nutrient to the south. The bubbling rapids are pristine and there is joy in the sight and sound of them; clean water is not only an essential, but a wonder for which to be grateful. I am delighted by its language, except for the realization that its abundance is shrinking everywhere in the world.
Already, fields have been plowed and crops are being planted for a hoped-for bounty by Fall. All around the area, the smell of lilac and pine are at their intoxicating peaks, crabapple and black locust permeate entire neighborhoods. The essence is nearly transformative, lifting me on my run. I am saturated with gratitude at the sweet scents of the earth, except for my memory of the smells of urban decay, both in the U.S. and abroad, which can quickly overpower the natural beauty of a Spring day.
I encountered five other runners and walkers on this day, each showing elation at the emergence from hibernation with smiles and greetings. We are all in moments of leisure, blessed in a communion with the beauty of a Spring idyll. I am glad, not only for myself, but for the experiences of my fellows, except for a sadness that so many others may never know this kind of moment. Maybe their days will be filled with other joys, but I selfishly want them to feel this moment the way that I do.
I am amazed at my running. For fifty years I have traversed wilderness and street, winter freeze and summer swelters, from the Superior Trail to Budapest, Managua to Kyongju. I have run for my own good, for a sense of accomplishment, to be healthy, and to spark creativity. I’ve been blessed with good knees and strength, and I recognize every day what such activities have meant to my well-being. And I find myself full of joy, except for the nagging realization that elsewhere, people conserve their energies for more practical tasks, such as survival. The thought most often slows me down, even if my step remains light. Wherever the journey leads, the contrasts are the same.
“Whether you are writing about anger, love, jealousy, desire, hate, it does not make a great difference whether you use a plowed field or a city alley, a garbage can or a rural dump, a city park or Quabbin Watershed Wilderness Area. The great central human considerations may be found everywhere.” -Joseph Langland, Poet
So I run on, in a delicate balance between the sublime and the disquiet, knowing that what I hear is not always heard, what I feel is not always felt, and the others I see are but a fortunate few of the many unseen. Wherever I am, I run between the conflict of beauty and decay, health and hurt, confidence and despair, for we are whole except for where we hurt, helpless except for when we choose otherwise….