Friday, January 01, 2010

Murray Creek Run: Late December 2009

Entry for 27 December 2009:

I got up early, still jet lagged from multiple time shifts, in the mood for a run. As I emerged from the lower house at Murray Creek about 8am, I startled a flock of wild doves, who rose from the drive and bushes nearby, their wings making a loud whirring noise. The sun was just up and morning mist hung in wisps amid the oaks. I set off down the road toward town. The ground was wet, with puddles here and there. It had been raining during the night; I remembered awaking to the sound of the rain on the roof. Murray Creek was pretty low, however; not much rain had fallen in the past week or two. Now the air felt cool, crisp, refreshing.

I ran past the Labyrinth, houses left and right off the road, past the Guirao’s, past the Naylor’s. I startled a doe and a fawn out of the creek; they went crashing off up the slope, into the underbrush. As I passed the low bridge leading over the creek to the left, I suddenly thought of the practice of awarding surnames based on features of the landscape: Henry Ford, named after a river crossing place; Frank Bridge (20th century English composer) named after some structure like this bridge I’d just run past. Frank Lake (founder of Clinical Theology and the organization now known as the Bridge Pastoral Foundation), named after an inland body of freshwater. It suddenly occurred to me that my friend Peggy Locke (from Lodi High School) must have been descended from people who lived near a canal lock or perhaps even tended the lock. Her family moved to California and founded a village at a crossing of the Mokelumne River: Locke’s Ford, shortened to Lockeford.

Past Conklin’s I cross the Murray Creek bridge and began the climb up the steep grade leading out of the valley. Jung was on my mind, from the previous day’s presentation of The Red Book to my mom. Not only do landscape features provide handy sources of surnames, but they also serve as useful metaphors for all kinds of things, such as a deep lake of sadness, or a bridge between two people, or between me and my dreams or hopes. Sometimes there is no bridge and we have to find a ford where we can wade through the Big Muddy, hoping we won’t be swept off our feet by the swift current of events and onto the rocks of disaster. A steep hill like the one I was straining up was Jung’s choice of metaphors for the first half of one’s life: struggling against adversity, surmounting (sur [= super ]+ mount + ing) challenges, achieving successive heights of ability, knowledge, accomplishment, reknown.

The second half of life, was, according to Jung, downhill. I reached my halfway point on my out-and-back run: about halfway up the grade out of the valley. Not for me this morning was the long run clear to the top or even all the way into town. I turned around and began the steep descent, being careful of my knees. Jung’s analogy was to a hill, not to my standard Murray Creek run; it would be mostly uphill home from the bridge at the bottom of the grade, with short but steep climbs at Conklin’s and Naylor’s. There are challenges in all parts of one’s life; who said the second half was easy? I don’t think that Jung found the second half of his life particularly easy!

On the way back, the road suddenly became busy: I passed Willy and Katie driving down the road, on a quick run into town. Then as I came up to the Naylor’s, I passed them coming out of their drive. I waved, then looked up the slope to the Johnson’s: Their horses were out grazing, staring at me with curiosity, as usual. Surprisingly, behind them was a rainbow glowing in the morning sun, set west against the yellow-green hills. I smiled; a rainbow while running always feels like a miracle to me. As I kept running, it suddenly occurred to me that sighting a rainbow to the west meant rain heading in my direction. As I thought this, the first few drops began to fall, hitting my face. It began to rain harder and to cloud up; the rainbow disappeared. But I was almost home, and it had been a lovely morning for a run, full of small adventures and entertaining musings: A perfect Murray Creek December run.

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