This man, my son, runs alongside of me,
though he could easily pace far ahead
in a very short time.
Around the circle of the pond,
hidden in the trees,
we curve left and head up
the first steep hill.
The woods are green and heavy yet
with the long wet summer
but the air has a feel of autumn.
The dirt is still damp from yesterday’s rain
but not mud, at least not in most places
where our feet seek the traction needed
for moving our will against gravity.
We swing around the base of the hill,
following the trace of the small stream
and avoiding the thorns of wild rose and raspberry.
After the long run back up and around the hill,
we tackle the steeper slope that brings us out
into the opening between Peter’s Creek
and the pasture off to the south.
We pause for a moment,
look at the fields rolling out north and west.
A bit farther up and east,
we reach the trail cut down the banks,
careful of the seams the rains have cut
and the bare stones bladed up from the earth:
these things could make ankles bend in ways
they are not meant to bend
and send a man gasping to the ground.
We make our way down
through occasional glints of sun and mud,
a last turn through the woods and into the creek.
Cold water stings our feet for only an instant
and then rises up to our knees.
Run hard enough long enough and even the chill
will feel like God’s own blessing.