Sunday, October 28, 2012

Exercise for the Soul

I am up and out the door at 4:15am; rain, shine, sleet or snow. I get out and power walk, then I head home to write for a bit before heading to work. I love that time because no one is around; it’s pitch black and the world is my own. Many think I’m crazy, but it’s my only time of peace, calm and serenity – or so I think it is. Those mornings when everyone is tucked away in bed are when my adventures often happen – and my imagination gears up for writing when I return home.

First there are the deer I scare as I hustle past. Um, half the time I am more scared of them. Some have really big antlers, and some have been known to charge in trying to protect their young. And let’s not talk about the hissing raccoons. Between the riotous deer and the rambunctious raccoons, I am more scared of them than the bogeyman.

I stick to sidewalks where the lighting is enough to prevent me from tripping - most of the time. But sometimes when a streetlight is out and a portion of the sidewalk is completely black, there are problems. Peace and serenity are destroyed when twisting your ankle on a pinecone, getting tangled in an obstinate tree branch, or breaking your arm tripping on a piece of plywood (long story, but it happened). The ice and snow I can handle trip-free, no problem. But things on the road? Forget it.

The streetlights that DO work guide my way, but sometimes they, too, can be scary.

Too many times when I have walked under a streetlight, I jump in fear. As something passes under its beams, the shadow of it on the ground is huge. The first few times this happened, I was sure a bat was about to swoop down on me, his shadowy silhouette on the pavement the only warning of his attack. It took me a while (ahem), but I finally figured out the shadows were not bats or flying rabid racoons, but moths. You know - moths attracted to light, and all that?

I listen to my iPod as I go, keeping beat to outdated music. But sometimes halfway through my walk I realize it wasn’t charged enough, and not only do I end up with no music, but I also lose my favorite feature – the stopwatch. I make a game of my work-out and try to beat my previous Olympic-worthy time. But sometimes I lag a bit, and visions of the Gold Medal are dashed until next time. ‘Oh well,’ I console myself, ‘at least I got out.’

But when the iPod fades to nothing, I realize how much I miss around me while listening to music. Owls hoot overhead, and although most birds are still asleep at that time, the ones I have yet to identify warn their cousins of the predatory owls - and likely me. Strange sounding birds compete with strange baying and yelping (wolves?). Needless to say, I pick up the pace.

My overactive imagination gets the better of me. It’s a wonder I even get out there, so treacherous it can be. But heck, many times it’s during those outings that inspiration comes for a story.

Then there is the problem of making a ‘pit stop.’ You know the kind; the kind that if it weren’t for the stampeding deer, ferocious raccoons, circling wolves, and swooping bats and moths, I would jump in the bushes and ‘go.’ If I am lucky, I can make it home. Fortunately for me, however, there is a recreation center nearby open early enough for me to run in and ‘do my thing.’ But sometimes I am too early and they are closed, so the back-up is the 24-hour grocery store situated perfectly on my route. It’s all in the planning, you see.

So by the time I get back home to clean-up and settle down to write, there is sweat in places we won’t mention, and I am a little unnerved by my wild animal taming. But at least I can make it through the front door without dribbling on the doorstep.

I am peaceful yet invigorated, inspired and de-stressed. And I keep going back for more.

It’s great out there! You should try it!

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