We regret to inform you that your regularly-scheduled run has been delayed by a thunderstorm.
I will run in the rain, up to a point. If the weather escalates from downpour to monsoon, I’ll stay home.
I will not, however, run in a thunderstorm. That’s asking for trouble.
So a few days ago, I was all set to head out when I heard thunder in the distance. I checked the forecast, and sure enough, a front was moving in. Behind it, there was about an hour of clear skies before another, larger system would hit. If I was going to run that day, it needed to be in that narrow window.
I sat through the storm at my computer, editing a chunk of my latest project while wearing my running gear. Minus the shoes, anyway.
Then I ran.
There’s a bike path I follow. I’ve been up and down it hundreds of times—I know what it looks like. I don’t always see it anymore.
After the storm, I was running through completely unfamiliar territory. This was a place I’d never been.
I’m well-practiced at leaping over puddles so I don’t splash myself. That day, I had to leap fallen branches, too. One section of the path maybe a hundred feet long was more green than black, from all of the leaves broken off the trees above me, most still clustered on tiny bits of twig that snapped free in the high winds.
At the point where I turn around to come home, two small trees lay in someone’s backyard, toppled completely. The splintered stumps thrust up from the soil like poorly-sharpened pencils.
On the way back, a man came out of his garage with a chainsaw to start dismantling a fallen tree of his own, that had landed across his neighbor’s driveway. The saw was so loud as I passed that it obliterated the music playing in my ears.
Five or six minutes from home, the skies darkened again, and I ended up running in the rain after all, my feet squelching through wet piles of maple seeds, the ones that spin in the wind like little helicopters.
When we write, it’s easy to focus on the storm—the violent change, whatever form it takes. It’s grand and sweeping and interesting. But it’s just as vital to capture the details of what that change has wrought, afterwards. The fallen leaves, the broken branches, and the man with the chainsaw. The aftermath can tell us more about the severity of the storm than living through it did.
And if you’re still with me through all that, welcome to my blog. Pull up a chair, and let me tell you a story.