Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Perfect Running Weather: Why we’re always “up at the lake”

They say that running away from your problems never works. They say that whatever you’re running from will still be there when you’ve returned from wherever you’ve blissfully absconded, so it’s better--healthier, more mature--to face your problems head on. 
I disagree.
For the past three weekends, Adam and I have stolen away to his family’s summer cottage in Wisconsin, feeling nary an ounce of guilt over who or what we were leaving behind. 
“Goodbye, everyone,” we say. “We’ll be up at the lake.”
We wake up in the morning to charmingly quirky bird calls that Adam mimics until I’m doubled over with laughter. We sip our coffee quietly, pens in hand, as we eye one another across the table during one of our highly contested crossword puzzle competitions.  
(Are we nerds? Absolutely.  Are we fun nerds? But, of course.)
After coffee, while Adam mows the lawn or starts the much-too-expensive-preservative-free bacon a-sizzling, I don my running gear and start to run.  
First, down the curving path that leads to the noisy highway, then across that highway--behind it--toward the little country road where the sound of rumbling semis is silenced behind a wall of trees and meandering corn fields.   

I run down the little country road, inhaling the scent of lilac and freshly cut grass because it feeds me, pulls me forward like an invisible rope that’s been tossed out to save me from myself. I run because I have to--because if I don’t I’ll sit in a state of imminent stagnation. 
If I don’t run, I’ll rot.
I run past patches of wildflowers (or are they just weeds?).  I approach the mysterious path that winds its way up till it disappears into the trees. I wonder where the path leads. Probably to a grand old house, I imagine. In my mind the house is white; its paint is chipped, the windows unwiped. A yellow sign points away from the path, telling me to follow the road more traveled. 
I never venture into that path, not because of the sign but because I prefer the path of my imagination. I don’t want to know where the path leads. I fear disappointment. Always. 
So I keep running until the little country road eventually reaches the noisy highway again, which means it’s time to turn around and go back.  
By noon Adam and I are on the lake--cruising, gliding--floating like the ducks that seem to follow us everywhere. We sweat in the sun.  We drink. We forget. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, we disappear.
That’s how it feels for me, at least. When I’m up at the lake, I’m literally up, floating away somewhere, happy to be wherever the wind and water take me.


  1. Surprise....I say have fun....these are the days of your youth...soon enough such freedom is borrowed or bartered or bought...soon enough...So for now...enjoy your carefree summer....and I say what's wrong with coming home to your life....you come back refreshed
    and recharged.....Netta would not approve I fear...ha ha old bag...too bad
    The path not yielded to....Now that's a poem

  2. OOOOO! would you believe my verify word was netatant!

  3. I sound terrifically frivolous, don't I? It's funny because up until a couple years ago, I spent every summer teaching pot-smoking high schoolers the wonders of Edith Wharton and Mark Twain...oh, how things have changed!!

    ...netatant? Must be a sign...