Fall is finally here in New Mexico, and there is no joy like being outside in crisp temperatures, surrounded by the quiet of nature. There are times when I need to escape from the tumult of life and just be with myself, feeling my existing, connecting with the world around.
Here, in the chilly blue light of the early dawn, I can breathe in the silence of the hills, moving like one more rustling leaf on the yellow cottonwood trees that dot the river banks of the Rio Grande. My feet crunch the gravel on the trail, sink into powdery dust of ditch banks. I am alive in this world that has existed here, constantly changing but ever present.
As I move through this single morning, I am aware of the rapid beating of my heart, my fast breathing fogging the air in front of me, my eyes dancing between now flaming sunrise and dim trail. Here I commune with and find refreshment from the swelling, breathing, silent greatness of the Earth, a presence that is constant, enduring, and strengthening. I feel the fragility of my own life, but along those dawn-lit trails I also perpetually rediscover my own strengths, those of my fellow humans, and I return from this drink of nature more at peace than when I left my house.
I return to a house filled with laughter, with joyful baby girls in pajamas and a husband slicing bananas as fast as he can as the girls clamber for more. I dive into this delicious fray, fortified from my run, and I hope to share the joys and peace found on my run as I walk through the day.
When I feel this resolve tremble, I take a moment to run my hand through my daughter’s fine baby hair, to flip through one of my favorite books, The Oldest Living Things in the World, to breathe deeply the fall air that retains its crispness even as the sun turns golden in the afternoon light.