For the first time in two weeks,
I feel well enough to seek the solace
of running in the woods:
the dizziness of the ear infection
and the pain of a six-week series of migraines
are somewhat diminished
and sometimes feeling better is more choice than chance.
The ground has thawed deeply enough
that the mush has turned into mud
and much of the mud into something
that seems more solid.
I push up the first steep slope,
taking the deep fast breaths
of a man not yet at race stamina,
forcing my feet to something faster than walking.
Blotches the color of fallen leaves
mark the trace of the trail,
giving way to the blonds of winter grass
in the pass at the top of the hill.
I trot along the brief flat,
then turn faster on the first downward run.
“Quick feet, quick feet!” I urge myself,
wanting to keep this pace
but knowing that sudden slowing
on wet leaves in a place this steep
would not end well.
As I turn off the trail onto my own path,
I note sudden movement high in the trees,
see the graceful swoop of a huge horned owl,
startled from its roost.
A four-foot span of brown wings
sweeps silently through the maze
of trunks and branches
as I jump across the unfrozen creek.
The owl disappears quickly
and I run on up the next hill,
where black cows graze in the green field
bordering the barren woods.
Less than five minutes in,
I have already been given
much more than I seek.