Some runs, that’s exactly how I feel: like a kid in a candy store.
Happy. Awestruck. Stunned by what I see all around me.
This morning was one such run. Fresh snow (we love snow!), glorious morning sun in a brilliant blue sky, mountain trails to ourselves, my dogs and I were in our version of nirvana. And as that thought – that I was happy as a kid in a candy store – flitted through my head, I was quickly ushered down a lane of memory, back to being five or six years old. That was the age when I was old enough to ride my bike to Brown’s Drug Store in the tiny shopping area about a half mile from our residential cul-de-sac. In addition to the drug store, there was a grocery store, a barber shop, and maybe a shoe repair or some other small business.
This was the early 1960s. Things were simpler then. Kids had more freedom to roam.
Brown’s was the attraction for us kids. Coloring books, comic books (Archie being my favorite), and an entire display of candies and gums near the checkout counter. Oh, the choices! Our allowances didn’t stand a chance.
Those memories sparked another one: Bazooka bubble gum. Big square pieces of pink gum with a crease down the middle that exploded with flavor when first chewed, followed by the fun of blowing bubbles and hearing them pop. A penny each. I had a vague recollection that they contained tiny comics under the wrapper. Once home from that glorious run, I googled Bazooka bubble gum and discovered my memory was correct. According to Wikipedia, the comics featured the character “Bazooka Joe” and after introduced in 1953, there were 1,535 different comics.
It’s these and similar trains of thought that keep me entertained – along with the incredible scenery I’m traveling through, and the antics of my dogs – during my long trail runs in the forest. Runner’s high – endorphins coursing through my body – promotes free-flowing thoughts that often lead to creative connections and writing breakthroughs. Or silly thoughts about Bazooka bubble gum.
As we headed back down the mountain on a gently-sloping single-track trail, deer and elk tracks were prevalent. The boys often had noses to the snow, inhaling the fresh scents. At one spot, though, I noticed the tracks of a bird mixed with those of deer and now me and my dogs.
I stopped to take photos, and while doing that, the boys saw a grouse up ahead on the trail. Chase on!
I enjoy seeing wildlife prints on the trails, and the light layer of snow makes them easier to see. I’ve come to learn that lots of wildlife – deer, elk, fox, coyotes – will utilize the trails we’ve built for our own enjoyment, which makes sense; they expend less energy following the easiest path. On this run, I became more aware of Conall’s prints, imagining how someone might come along later and seeing them – without noticing mine – might wonder if a wolf had been here. Conall’s prints are large, but I bet a wolf’s are even larger.