I went on a jog this morning. I needed to clear my head, and the gunk out of my joints, and the cobwebs from my molding athleticism. A blast of cold hit me when I opened the front door. I almost chickened out. Almost.

Things felt clean outside. The birds sounded happy. There weren't any dogs barking. It's true that warmth has come to the valley an hour to our southeast, but the trees in these mountains only recently sent out leaf scouts to test this news. Starting my first, reluctant trots, I look up, and it's clear they've since spread the word.

I'm moving better now. Gaining some momentum. This is pretty much how I operate in general; starting is hard for me, it's painful to watch me pick up speed, but once I'm in motion-- well, it's still not pretty to watch. But it's not easy to stop me, either. I'm a juggernaut of hunting dreams, and the first steps up the mountain-- come hunting season--begin here, this morning. Tally-ho.

I'm almost to the end of our road-- and a rooster crows. A rooster. And a switch in my head is quietly flipped. The gentle rush of East Weaver Creek to my right becomes the swollen roar of the dark Louetsi. The sterilized air is infused with thick moisture. Another rooster crows somewhere in the distance and the brushed pavement melts into a dusty track of red gravel cutting through a tangle of green. Trees turn into people, friends from long ago, coming out of their mud-brick houses as I jog past to holler a cheerful greeting or wave. Closer friends follow their greetings with good-natured insults. I laugh. They laugh.

Looking down, I cringe. My Nike basketball shorts and running shoes have morphed into frightfully immodest camo cut-offs and Pony high tops. I'm also wearing a fluorescent pink tank top. The memory is worth this small humiliation, I decide. So I go with it and keep jogging.

By now I'm not seeing the snow-covered peaks of the Trinities as they rise from a hazy horizon to meet me. Instead, I see an African sun mounting over the sleepy town of Lebamba, I hear the sound of approaching thunder, smell the familiarity of wet earth and diesel, and dread the uphill climb back home.

I went on a jog this morning... and I'm still not back.


  1. I loved this. In fact...I think I'm giving you an award for it. Look over on the right side of my blog.

  2. Awww, this actually brought tears to my eyes! It happens to me so often when I'm outside for any stretch of time that (I should qualify that by saying as long as there's no snow on the ground-which is 5 months out of the year here)my surroundings turn into another country and flood me with such good memories. I know that if we ever move from New Hampshire, I will have similar feelings about here, but nothing compares to the beauty and rawness of Africa. Every summer rain, full moon in plain sight, hot wind, sweaty afternoon, beautiful sunrise or sunset, rooster crowing(like you mentioned=), full starry sky, warm campfire is a transportation back to a place with people as wonderful as their country. And they all want to move here!=) And thanks for putting me back in the Africa mood. It doesn't take much, you know.=)

  3. PS- I think I actually had plastic sneakers from the market at one point in high school that I only wore on vacation to go jogging in. They were unbelievable.=)

  4. Ahhhhhhh---it's amazing how our minds make connections and take us to other times and places. As I was reading I had distinct memories of the soccer team galloping past my house early in the misty morning.

  5. I thought I recognized that dirt road...

  6. Cool.
    So, do people in Africa think you're nuts for jogging?

  7. Rachel, Sheryl ~ Glad my "trigger" experience resonates with you both... I had a man from South Africa tell me once that you have to be careful when you travel to that wonderful continent, because "Africa seeps into your blood."

    Yes Steve, but very few others would!
    Bill ~ Only people over the age of 40 would think me nuts for jogging. Kind of like the folks in Back to the Future 3. But lots of the younger guys "do sport" as they call it.

  8. What a beautiful picture (real and imagined!). You should be writing for a living on top of the many things you already do....can't wait to hear the rest of the story when you come back from your jog.....

  9. beautiful.
    this made my heart hurt. for the time spent slapping the pavement in the lush new england spring. the new growth so sweet and spicy it choked me while i ran.
    thanks for that.


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