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In the loamy, melty smell of spring, I will be distracted by flowers and bird songs, patches of green moss and baby eider ducks.
Then, I let my brain roam wild again until I light upon another idea I want to remember. There’s no feeling more unshackled than having only my mind and my legs to depend on.
It is, oddly, only while running that this system works. Once, when my 4-year-old was a baby, I was driving through the marsh on our way to pick my older son up from school. And just then, my son piped up in the back seat: He had dropped his matchbox car and wanted it back. Later that afternoon while waiting for bread to toast for my kids’ afternoon snack, I wrote a poem called “Forgotten Poem.”When I am running there is nothing but time and my own body and however long it will take me to get there. And believe me, sometimes it does take a long time. Once, a neighbor saw me running as she was out walking her dog and she laughed out loud.
Plots for more novels or children’s stories, bits of poems and, sometimes, when I’m lucky, just beautiful, intact sentences will come to the fore. What I do is I find one word about that idea, one thing that will help me remember. Wouldn’t it be easier to carry the phone or even just a slip of paper and a pencil to record my thoughts? But then I’d have to engage with the device, and it might just be too tempting to check my email or text messages.
I repeat it to myself like a mantra, until I have it. Or I might need to stop; and with stopping and starting, the thoughts, I’ve found, do not surface in the same way.
Her optimism is so great, it even seems to rub off on Jessica.
Rosa has had her condition her whole life, while Jessica has only had hers for a short time, yet Rosa is still happier.In the book, Rosa gets those close to her to see her real self instead of just seeing her as the girl in the wheelchair that has trouble talking.She manages this through using some of her best qualities: her friendliness, joy in helping others, and optimism.She always smiles in such a game and inspiring way.I’m guessing that she knows, as the song goes, that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Sometimes, I peel off into the snowy woods, following deer and fox tracks, until I come to a pristine patch of snow, where I grab an icy chunk flavored with white pine needles and run back to the road, eating it as I run on home, the 10-degree wind burning my cheeks.The Real Rosa In the book The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, the main character Jessica is trying to adjust to a new life without one of her legs.Another character, Rosa, helps her through this while facing a disability of her own. Even though some people don’t take the time to really get to know her, she has some great qualities that should make people want to.Or for my writing, which must happen around the edges of our busy, chaotic family life. In the wind and bright sun, in the cracking ice echoing through the salt marsh, in the flight of the blue heron up above, in the scratch of my ratty running shoes on the sandy, icy shoulder of the road, I am free.And mostly alone, as few runners join me on the slippery roads of winter.If the mind says it's too cold or too rainy or too windy to run, the body will be more than happy to agree.When winter is at its coldest, when everything is frozen and still, that is when I prefer to run.