all your life
you were only waiting
for this moment to arise
— the prophet mccartney
I go to the track fearful for the trees. My fears were not unfounded.
Both trees that provide the track with a bit of shade, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, were hit hard by last night’s storms. They provided a little oasis where the fast guys would bring yoga mats and water bottles and lounge between torture sessions. And now they’re both gone. I think the trees will survive, but the branches that provided the cover on the track were wiped out. I suppose it’s Mother Nature’s way of saying “Stop goofing off, you slackers.” Mother Nature has been kinda grumpy lately.
It’s an OK day, in a sad sort of way, running past the old friends again and again. 3 miles, 40:24 (13:25-135), which I’m pretty happy with. But as I’m looking at the tree, I realize I haven’t seen David Torrence in a while.
Longtime readers will recall that I last saw him in that very spot, sitting in the shade between repeats with a yoga table and a guy who I think was a reporter. He was a world-class middle distance runner, until he died the next day.
But then he came back as a blackbird. He sat on the fence every day in the shade of the tree. The track is on an Indian reservation. Who’s to say? All religions are a little goofy if you stare at them too long. He could have come back. Stranger things have happened. I would direct you to the 2016 election.
But I haven’t thought about him for a while, and I realize I haven’t seen him lately. What happened? Is he OK? It’s been an amazingly harsh summer, between the 120 degree heat and the 60 mph wind. I worry about him. And then coming around the near turn, I see it.
There’s a blackbird feather in Lane 8. I’m 2 miles in, and this is the first time I saw it.
It’s a little spooky. Is it a sign? Is he telling me something?
It’s not hot enough today to hallucinate. It’s just a feather, I tell myself, not a signal from beyond. Maybe? Nah. Just a feather.
I pick it up and stash it in my pocket. I bring it home and place it in my log book. I think back to the people I have lost and hope they’re living happy lives somehow, somewhere in another place we don’t understand.
I think back to his stride, that effortless swoosh of a world-class runner. The way he would fly off the fence every lap, go just far enough away, and then come back as soon as I passed. Over and over. He was a fine running partner.
I hope there’s a heaven for birds. And distance runners. And trees.
And maybe there will even be room for me …