I’m changing my schedule up. I decided to run on different days, like today. It was raining when I got up. I hopped on the treadmill. However, I really, really wanted to run outside. Treadmills are nice and all, but can get monotonous.
I walked for a couple of minutes on the mechanical beast, willing my left calf to loosen up. Then I started running. The permanent incline of “1” felt like uphill all the way. My legs, fleshy pylons, protested mightily. I gave up. Rain or no rain, I was going outside.
I stepped into a star-spangled pre-dawn. Clouds and rain had stopped. The eastern sky lightened. The air held the perfume of cherry blossoms and cut grass. An involuntary smile crept onto my face. Now we could get somewhere.
I ran past the sketchy streetlight at the end of my driveway. I pounded along on familiar territory, yet somehow all new today. Running past Safeway, I saw a short figure in the dark distance. Funny how your vision, source of most of our perception, gets altered in the low light. A man with a dog on a leash. I got closer. The German shepherd never even saw me. Just as well.
I ran down to the post office. Cherry trees in full bloom lined the entire next block. Backlit by nightlights, their petals rained down on me and the pavement behind me like a faux winter wonderland. I passed another person, a woman with her hair in a long braid. She too had dog-walking duty. Her three small whitish dogs lunged at me, tails curled. Call it a three-dog dawn. I smiled and kept moving.
Somewhere along the way where the sidewalk ended, I hopped into a puddle. I got wet all the way up to my ankles. I bounced out quick, surprised by the unpleasant sensation of water sloshing into my socks. But I kept going and the water squished out on the cement.
I rounded the corner for home. Right on cue, the streetlight flickered on. A black shape with a whippet tail moved in front of me. It was Rex, lurking around to greet me and/or let him in. He edged away from my hand as if to remind me when it’s dark out, he belongs to the night.