Monday, October 31, 2011

The Golden Forest

I call it the golden forest. For 50 weeks out of the year, it’s just a 1.5 mile segment of the Big Rocky Run trail. But for two weeks in mid-late October, the green canopy of leaves turns yellow, and the path glows.

Last Thursday I did an interval workout on the roads that led me, as most of my runs over seven miles do, through some segment of this trail. It became the quintessential autumn run. The scene was one that photographers might search for, writers write about, and most of us probably conjure in our heads when we think of the fall.

A thick roll of dark-bluish clouds tinged with purple stretched over the sky making the fall colors even more vibrant. The air raised goose bumps on my arms every time I stopped at a light and a small plume of my breath formed in front of my face on the deep exhales.

I clicked my watch at the two mile mark and waited while traffic zoomed by. I eyed the clouds, wondering if I’d make it through the workout without getting rained on. Cars pulled up next to me and I watched the drivers negotiate whether or not they could complete the right on red without getting rear-ended. The light turned yellow, then red. No time left to think about it. I gave one last glance over my left shoulder to make sure the cars turning right actually observed the cross walk/walk signal, then I trotted off across the parkway.

The path runs parallel to the parkway for about 200m before bending to the left and eventually snaking down below the road to the woods line. There’s a noticeable temperature drop. The air feels damper as well as cooler. The creek burbles from the rain earlier today and a pack of deer eye me to determine if I’m a predator or not.

Despite the cloud cover and the setting sun, the path ahead is unusually bright. It's as though someone flipped the light switch on in an otherwise dark room. I looked around and not one leaf is any color other than yellow. I started my quarters and though I was working hard, the effort, the traffic, the noise, the distraction all seemed to slip away on the breeze.

Leaves spiraled down in slow motion from the swaying branches and I could hear the wind gathering in the trees ahead of me. Suddenly it’s on me all at once, and running through the clusters of falling leaves is like swimming through a school of fish. Puddles dot the path and I splash through them, kicking both water and mud up my calves.

Everything about this trail depends on the run. That is to say, some days it’s a frolic through the woods while others it’s a slog that disrupts your rhythm and form. Some days I dread running on it and use a checklist of landmarks to get back up to the street. Other days, it calls to me when I haven’t run on it in sometime.

On my final recovery after the final interval, I ease back on the pace just to enjoy it for a couple extra seconds longer. When I come back to the woods-line, those dark-bluish clouds tinged with purple are spitting cold rain.

During these two weeks in the fall? It never lasts long enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...