This is a look down our new, much improved driveway. Before, it was a mess of ruts and holes left over from the mud season, basically the month of April. Now the crushed rock and gravel should stand up to rain and spring thaws without us having to go mud bogging. And it's a lot nicer to walk down without having to dodge mosquito breeding puddles.
There are big things happening around here, finally. The driveway, and this week we're getting the drywall done in much of the house. That will involve much upheaval, like not being able to cook in my kitchen on my electric range for a few days, but when I think about the road we took to get here, a few days shouldn't matter much.
I am finally running again on a regular basis, as of this weekend. For the last month or so I had been suffering from a severe case of not wanting to run, maybe related to the too many thoughts running through my brain and the lack of capacity to process it all. But it's an interesting feedback loop: When I get it into my mind that I don't want to, or don't have time to run, I get into this strange apathetic state that makes excuses for not running. Which is sad, because I feel 100 percent better, physically and mentally, when I run. I need to run, period. I am also looking for the fringe benefit of weight loss, which, I have found, only happens when I run regularly.
So I went for my 4 mile run this morning, along my usual, beautiful route. It's so peaceful, I hardly ever see a car, and when I do it's usually nice people who wave. The only dogs I encounter are friendly dogs, from my kids' best friends' house. And I hear tons of birds; last week I came up with more than twenty species heard in three miles.
I was taking it easy this morning, having pushed myself yesterday with sprinting intervals, which was a form of self-torture. I just ran slow and steady. When I was approaching the point where I had decided I would turn around, I looked up and saw a doe and two fawns in the road ahead. I watched them for a while, but I did not want to scare them so I decided to turn around and begin the course back home.
I had only gone back maybe 2/10 of a mile when I saw something in the road ahead of me. A large black animal. BEAR! I stopped dead in my tracks. I was thinking, okay, usually black bears are pretty harmless, but I didn't want to take my chances. It was about 5oo feet away, maybe more, ambling across the road, taking its time. I watched it as it looked around, sniffing. I wonder if it sensed my presence. If it did, it didn't seem to care. Finally I watched it walk down a side road.
I approached that road cautiously. Then I remembered some advice from somewhere that said, when in bear country, talk loudly. Clap. Sing. So I sang whatever came into my head, told the bear that I did not mean any harm, and punctuated it with hand clapping. It must have worked, or else the bear didn't really care one way or the other, because when I reached the side road there was no sign of the bear. I started running again, then a couple hundred yards later I came across the still wet footprints where the bear had come out of the ditch onto the road.
I am most surprised about how not scared I was. I reacted with a sense of "Oh wow! A bear!" more than anything. I guess that comes with living out here; you develop an appropriate sense of caution. I don't think it will be necessary to carry a can of Mace on any future runs; after all, I have been running the same route so long, and this was the first bear encounter. I still worry more about humans, but on my running route I don't even have to worry about them too much.