First steps

A lopsided tree on a trail in Patrick's Point Park in winter where I am taking first steps running

At the trailhead
I vacillate and waver,
shake away the urge to start, as if it were a pest aiming at my face,
turn my attention to a thought-that-cannot-wait-a-moment-longer,
though it has lain forgotten for days.

Drizzle dots my glasses sliding down a cold nose
Random aches nag
The bench on the bluff lures me to stay, sit
and see platinum sky melt into gunmetal ocean.

But I can’t:
A breath of wind and the lopsided dead tree ahead will slam down onto the trail
and cut off passage.
Time is tight
to press on and reach past the tree.
Too late is too close.

Yet I dither,
find excuses
detail pressing commitments I never made
impede the progress burning urgent
within.

Until
I wrest the first step.
Soon legs and feet fall into a trotting rhythm,
soles spring on rain-loosened loam.
Browning ferns crowd along the path—
dying, so spring can bring new growth.
Bright green fiddleheads will uncurl and unfurl.

The hesitant first step is effaced in the glow of the endorphins’ high
tide flowing in.

At the top of the page
I dither and doodle,
shake away the urge to write, as if it were a pest aiming at my face,
turn my attention to a task-that-cannot-wait-a-moment-longer,
though it has lain undone for days.

I brew a fresh cup of black tea
Inhale the sweet steam,
sip.
I quarter and core a Fuji apple
Bite after bite I eat it, a drop of juice escaping from my lips
chased and captured by the tongue.
Time is tight
to press on and reach the bottom of the page.
A bite of bitter chocolate
melts in my mouth

Now

Right hand prods the fountain pen
Nib whispers
Blue ink seeds the page
of the notebook the same hand sewed with precise stitches.

When I stop I am tired
The tracker shows over 3 miles run
The notebook 3 pages filled
bleeding onto a fourth.

Not every day sets a personal running record
Not every day the words will survive the editing shears
But today’s trotting is training for tomorrow’s run
Today’s still sentences are training for the full moon
setting on the ocean
sparking off the page.


© 2015-2017 Simona Carini

Joy in every step

Odessa Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park (the joy of hiking)
August 11, 2015 — Rocky Mountain National Park

We emerged from the Fern Lake trail in the bright mid-morning sun, after hiking four and a half miles from Odessa Lake, on whose shore we had spent the night. The trail down from the lake started rocky and exposed, then turned into packed dirt in the breezy shadow of stately firs and quivering aspens.

Along the way, we met several fishermen, a park rangers’ rescue team in training, and other hikers—some couples and a few families with children in tow. Adults usually nodded, or said: “Hi.” Some smiled and, taking their cue from our backpacks, asked: “Where did you sleep?” The children rarely said anything or even made eye contact with us, maybe out of shyness, but most probably because as adults, we were by definition uninteresting, backpacks notwithstanding. Most of them looked bored, a few irritated, the rest slightly interested in the surrounding forest.

I remembered being worse than them. To treat my flat feet, as a child I had to wear custom-made boots that felt and looked like a prison. The orthopedist had recommended walks on rough terrain. When I was made to hike by my parents, I felt punished. I hated it and my permanent scowl made my feelings abundantly clear to anyone who dared look at me.

A stretch of unpaved road linked the Fern Lake Trailhead to our destination: the parking lot where the visitor shuttle stopped. I started on it savoring the bittersweetness infusing the end of an adventure. In the spotlight of the sun approaching its zenith, I saw a trio coming slowly towards us. A woman and a man held by the hands a boy walking unsteadily yet determinedly on thin, bow legs. His grin was as luminous as the sun above—a grin of unlimited happiness.

I focused on him only an instant. “He doesn’t want to be looked at,” I thought. But in that instant our eyes met across the road. I smiled at him. He surprised me with a silvery “Hello!” ringing like a mindfulness bell.

“Oh, hello!” I answered, widening my smile to match his grin.

His short dark hair stuck out at its end, pagoda-like. Four years old, I guessed. But there was no guessing about his glee: every inch of his frail frame screamed his joy of walking outdoors.

My gaze let him go, but I held on to the desire of declaring the same joy in each of my steps.


© 2015-2017 Simona Carini