Thoughts of Spring


By Gordon Cherr


“I often think that my relationship with running is like that of a long married couple. We’ve been together forever and had lots of ups and downs. We fight sometimes, but in the end we’re in it for the long haul and I can’t imagine life without it. In that vein, winter running sometimes resembles a lovers’ quarrel.” (Ellen McCurtin, Winter Despair and Inspiration, Ultrarunning, March 2003).

The truth be known, winter running in Tallahassee really isn’t that much of a real chore and those of us who have emigrated here from cooler climes are well aware of that. Yet, this past winter seemed to drag on indeterminably long, making getting out of the warm bed and out of the warm house a real chore. It was cold too, I was just so tired of putting on those two shirts, a jacket or gloves and a hat, and why was it always dark when I left and dark when I got back? Sometimes, I couldn’t tell whether it was morning or evening, it felt like the entire winter was go to work, run, go to work, run, and so on and so forth. It got so totally confusing that, as another columnist recently wrote, sometimes as I headed out for a run, I actually bumped into myself coming back. Bummer.

Worse yet, I hardly had a soul to run with this winter, and while running tends to be a solitary endeavor for the most part, it is so much easier to move yourself when you know that someone will be beating down your door if you tarry even a tiny bit. Guilt is a powerful motivator. Even my old hound dog, Buster, knew enough to take off from running the entire winter. Oh, he made believe that his hip hurt, or maybe this paw or that paw, and he limped around a lot and heaved sighs the size of a barn door when I tried to rouse him for the morning run. I regretfully placed him on the “injured, reserved” list for the entire winter, but the truth be known, he got awfully comfortable with sleeping in. So, I had nothing but four lonely months of a pulled left hamstring, a sore right knee and a return of Achilles tendinitis in the right ankle and weekly diminishing mileage. I cursed every morning that I had to push myself out the door, and , buddy, I cursed a lot. Everything looked dark to me, all of the time. Whine, moan, complain.

But spring has a way of emerging very suddenly some years here, and in those years there might not be a prettier place on earth than Tallahassee. One day it is gray or so it seems, the next day the pinks and reds, whites and violets overwhelm the senses. There are no leaves anywhere, then the Bradford pears bloom cotton white, and the next time you see them, they are leafed out in their deep green summer suits. Whoa, when did that happen? Saucer magnolia, apricots, redbud, then dogwoods, azaleas, and soon every tree in town is trying to outdo the others for who can leaf out the fastest. Or drop the most pollen. What happened to my truck? It is more yellow now than black. And when did that mockingbird start singing, that cardinal, that chickadee, that blue jay? Those strutting male goldfinch look just like little men in bright yellow and black tuxedos. Incredible.

Yet, I suppose that I wasn’t paying much attention to any of that, still feeling the funk of deep winter. Then my eyes were opened wide. On one morning run, maybe two weeks ago, this enormous bald eagle swooped down to the roadway, not fifty feet in front of me, and while in full flight, grabbed some road kill in his outstretched talons, and disappeared just as quickly. He was looking me right in the eye the entire time, but never deviated an inch from his path. And not a half mile later I passed over a drainage slough, and there to my right , there must have been 50 wood storks congregating together. They spooked with my passage, but rose and soared silently, and so gracefully, to the other side of the pond, their calming vigil to begin anew. And when I returned home from this run the old dog was now up and about, doing his little warm up stretch and eyeing me and the worn leash which had been hanging there, both me and the leash having been useless to him for months now. He was giving me the same message that they all had been hinting at, for several weeks:

Time to get up, get out, get going. Remember your loved ones, your friends and your many blessings. It is spring and the time for renewal and new hope is here. Buster and I have been clocking the miles regularly again each morning. Our gardens are blooming, the birds are singing and gorging themselves at our backyard feeders with the promise of new mouths soon to be fed. Open your eyes to the vast possibilities in your life. They are right there, so all you need to do is look.

But while you are at it, remember too, to pray hard for an early return to spring all around the rest of Spaceship Earth, because right now in some places far from here it is not spring at all. It hasn’t been spring there for many years. And while it might be hot there, it is still icy cold and people remain trapped and despairing in the silent dread of winter.