Daylight savings and the slow descent into darkness have meant that once again its headlamp season for many of us outdoor runners. While my forehead and eyes are busy adjusting, I’m forcing more optimism about this season of rainy, darkish runs. Yes there are unpleasant topples thanks to sheer slicks of leaves and just a hint of un-coordination. There are mental hurdles and the temptations of cushy couches, but taken all together, this season I’m trying my hardest to embrace the dark. Its harder. Maybe the hard is what makes it good. After the fair weather runners have dashed into warm, dry gyms, the sidewalks are roomier, and the runs are shared with only a few fellow drowned rats who, oddly enough, seem to have indomitably broad grins. This is not a coincidence, I don’t think.
About 10 minutes from home, it starts to rain. Like a challenge from the skies, I’m compelled to try to beat the droplets back to the warmth of home. I’ve been thankful for an uncharacteristically dry run this evening, and the only thing between me and that goal is a bit of pavement. I’m almost ready to click off the headlamp, but there is one more dark patch between us and the front porch. Soon enough my thoughts are distracted and before I know it, with horse-to-the-stables pace on, we’re rounding on the driveway.
Bodhi is pulling hard on the leash as we approach the front yard. He makes a move toward the lawn and I’m jerked off course, the pool of foggy light landing squarely on the blinking eyes of a beaver. An actual, live, beaver. Holding a stick (as they are wont to do, I understand) in the grass of our front yard. Here’s something I don’t see everyday.
Bodhi stops dead in his tracks as he gets a good look, the leash taught between us and his ears alert, nose working overtime. He fights me on the leash as I realize, slowly, what I’m looking at enough to be pretty impressed (THERE’S a BEAVER in the yard! CAPS LOCK! CAPS LOCK ALL OVER! It’s a caps lock occasion if ever there was one, at least in my head). Bodhi does not growl, but puffs up and sidles closer to the grass. I’m not sure what his plan is, since I’ve seen him bolt, tail between legs, at the mere sound of a car door. I have also witnessed him pull a live mole out of the ground and rocket it skyward with a flick of his head (albeit also with a startled yelp.)
I’m dumbfounded at this beaver, just sitting here in our yard, and seeming very comfortable with us coming up on him and his dinner in the dark. I scoot past and coax the dog inside, while the beaver makes some slow movements toward the hedge. As I pull the door behind us, I’m pondering beaver land speed and the possible outcomes of what would surely be an embarrassing scuffle for Bodhi if I let him out potty, as is our post-run routine. Hoping my sweet dog can hold it just a little but longer, I’m convinced the beaver is an auspicious omen. The rain is not all bad, he reminds me. With it come so many good things, slips and scrapes and some clammy skin too perhaps, but in the end the reward is there, and even just a bit more gratifying. Blinding rain, beaver or not, most runs end with a satisfaction and clarity I’m hard-pressed to find elsewhere, and for all the harder it gets in the winter months, the reward is just as good.
Run on, friends! You never know what is waiting for us out there.
**Please note: No moles (or beavers) were harmed in the making of this blog post.