The summer turns its final corner, the air dries out, and suddenly you can breathe full, deep draughts of cool air. It’s like being let off a very short, hot leash. Then the leaves come cascading down, twisting on the wind, piling on the trails.
On Saturday, I lost count of the times, my foot poised inches above the ground, I thought “Mmmm, I hope there’s ground under there.” The price you pay for Fall’s fresher air.
If you’re lucky, you can make out the gray forms hidden in the leaves. They seem to swim, but that might just be my eyes struggling to focus. The sun slants hard through the trees, and the colors are all some shade of earth. I tweak my ankle once, then twice, little jolts as I fail to connect with the ground through a rocky section.
Here you realize the benefit of running the same trails so much. You mostly know where everything is, the roots and rocks. Your unconscious mind will keep you safer than you deserve to be. But those little tweaks, the subtle soreness, reminds you that danger lurks beneath the surface.
I have some sense of being part of the solution to this particular problem, tamping down the leaves as I go. We all just have to keep going. The snow and ice will come soon to fill in all the gaps, and present a new kind of challenge.