Marolt: Hurrying outside to hear the dog days howl
It was one of those afternoons where you felt life was passing you by because you weren’t wearing short pants. I came into the empty house after work and immediately went to open the front door to chase out the heat that had snuck inside and to get away from the crowd that had gathered outside throughout the afternoon to celebrate its victory over winter.
The Golden Orb has gained the upper hand and will hold it for the next few months, but we know there will be a reversal of fortunes. By October, it will be tired. In November, it will know it has been beat. When December rolls around, it will be mostly gone except for a few peeks over the horizon to see if winter shows any signs of putting its guard down. It’s a cycle in the penultimate battle in the world, second only to the fight between good and evil in impact on the mood of humanity and longevity.
It was the first time the temperature broke 70 this year. I had the primal urge to strip down, to get outside and to move my body around under the shower of sunshine and rinse in fresh air, but I settled on a compromise between the legal limits of decency and the practical layers of light clothing that would protect me from harmful UV rays and mosquito bites on skin not conditioned for such dermatological trespasses.
My wife was at a school board meeting and my daughter was throwing yellow balls from baskets tied to sticks into triangular nets with the rest of the girls’ lacrosse team. The next two hours promised to lump along without requiring anything of me, but I knew the pace only appeared relaxed and would be gone before I knew it. The warmth the day proved it was summertime and summertime doesn’t last up here. The dogs days were howling somewhere to the south and fall seemed practically here.
I had to get outside but didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t time for golf. The mountain-bike trails are still all closed, except for the ones not worth riding. Tennis anyone? Nope, no one I know plays anymore.
Without a plan, I slipped on a pair of quick-dry shorts with a compression liner that are all the rage these days for men who are into anything athletic or otherwise. I paired that with a T-shirt, which were popular in the ’80s with the same type of crowd. I laced up a pair of running shoes, which most people just wear to the movies or dinner these days.
I ran through the driveway toward the street without a clue as to where I was headed. It was a little stressful. I thought about turning and jumping in the Prius for a nearly impact-free drive to one of the not-so-nearby trails that was open, but the breeze felt too good to turn my back to so I kept running.
At the edge of the neighborhood, right was wrong, since that would lead me into the alleged elk birthing grounds and, if the secret cameras with motion sensors mounted on the trees caught me there, even moving much slower and less threatening than a mountain lion, I would be subject to possible public ridicule and definitely a fine. I turned left.
On the hill above Town Park, the enormity of the world struck me, especially the small part of it in front of me. It didn’t matter where I ran. There was plenty of room.
I have run to see how fast I can go. I have run to see how far I can go. I have run to see how long I can stand it. I have run to get into shape. I have run for a reward. I have run for punishment. I have run for discipline. I have run to chase and be chased. I have run for fear. I have run from the scene of a crime. I have run to make up for sins. I have run to catch airplanes, buses and all sorts of balls. I have run to make appointments. But I cannot remember the last time I ran just for fun.
And so I did. I set no goal. I didn’t look at my watch. I ran fast and slow. Before I’d had enough, I went home. I celebrated summer and accomplished absolutely nothing else.
I came to realize the only downside to this approach is that if I did this often, this summer could seem like the shortest one yet.
Roger Marolt loves the suddenness of summer … at least, when it arrives. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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