Miss L and I spent a few days Up North and are just back downstate for Christmas. In contrast to the last two winters in Michigan, it’s been mild and warm, without snow. This has contributed excessively to allergies, sneezing and sinusitis, and although I wouldn’t wish for another deep freeze winter, I would prefer a hard cold day of snow to a nonstop muddy downpour.
The upside to the lack of snow was that I could trail run a bit. I feel like I’m starting to get my running mojo back, breathing easier, moving more nimbly, letting my mind roam around while my body does what it is trained to do.
When I came downstairs in the morning, ready to go, wearing my white and grey brand name running jacket, though, my parents dug their heels in.
Even in the Sleeping Bear, they said, there are hunters in the woods, and wearing white is the worst thing you can do. You look just like a deer flicking its tail, they said.
Here, they said, and handed me a bright orange cap. I reluctantly donned it.
Not good enough, they said, and my father disappeared to dig around in his closet.
HERE, he said triumphantly, and presented me with a choice of either a hunter’s vest with bright orange accents or a yellow anorak, both of which belonged to him.
YOU ARE KIDDING ME, I said.
No we are not, they said, so I donned the enormous yellow XL anorak that flapped like a sail around me. Miss L thought this was hugely funny yet horrifying, so I had to hide my own horror and reinforce that safety comes first. It’s not a fashion show, I said, it’s about being safe and making good decisions. I donned the orange cap with as much dignity as I could muster and avoided looking in the mirror on my way out the door.
I had an amazing trail run despite the flapping anorak and hit the last mile, feeling relieved that no one had seen me in my strange garb. My muscles were loose, nothing pained me, and my breath came evenly. I watched where I set my feet, leaves and twisted tree roots, wood soil turning to sand and back again, there on the edge of the lake. I’d heard gunshots in the woods, too, so my parents’ admonition seemed less far-fetched. Then, suddenly, I heard a friendly voice behind me calling out that she was passing me on the left, and a woman darted around me. Did you hear those gunshots?… she called as she flew by, up a slight rise littered with dead leaves, her breath showing in billows. She was slim and athletic, wearing running pants and a stylish lavender running jacket. Yes, I called back. That’s why I’m wearing this…I shook my father’s jacket.
I saw you, she called back, and laughed a bit, and took off again , leaving me in her wake.
She was stretching out in the parking lot of the Old Indian trail when I finished, and we chatted companionably for a few minutes. She was an Ironman, which made me feel less bad about being schooled by her on the trail. She was also really friendly and avoided looking at my strange outfit, which made me like her more. We agreed it was a great morning run – mild, clear, and the views of Lake Michigan from the trail end were pretty amazing.
Plus, I didn’t get shot by a half-drunk hunter, so that’s a bonus too. Thanks Mom & Dad. It’s nice to see love in action, displayed in small acts of concern and caution, even if the expression of it is in an XL yellow anorak.
It’s always tough to leave the place I like the best to come back downstate, but I think it’s important for our family to have Christmas in our house (or at Miss L’s dad’s house) when she’s young, and it’s also important to me that she gets to see both of her parents on Christmas. Maybe that will change as she gets older. In fact, I’m sure it will, as our relationships change, as we all move on and grow, but for now, it works and everyone is happy with the arrangement. Her dad will come over tomorrow morning for breakfast and coffee and to open presents, and the fact that we can do that is a gift in and of itself. I am as always aware of how truly blessed I am on this Christmas Eve, and I hope all of you are as well. Merry merry.