Last month’s article ended with the lyrics from Fame (musical) which included “I sing the body electric, I celebrate the me yet to come, I toast to my own reunion when I become one with the sun, and I’ll look back on Venus, I’ll look back on Mars, and I’ll burn with the fire of 10 million stars, and in time and in time, we will all be stars.” Were any of you able to go floating up above the Earth, at least for a moment or two? Try as I might, I still go for the floaty feeling of skate skiing, though it probably doesn’t look like it to others. Its my winter escape, creating my own heat as the cold settles over the Earth towards nightfall. Now that substantial snow has finally come, I do try to forget about the slowness of my forward pace on skis. Tomas Gideon passed me this week, he who skis like a Nordic god. 2 or 3 breaths later he was out of sight. My reaction? “Don’t don’t try to catch him David.” “Get back into your own world where YOU control what happens.” And suddenly, my skating form relaxes, I get the rhythm back, and MY pace comes back effortlessly. Where is all this heading? How is it that “…in time, we will all be stars”? This may sound too philosophical, but at some point all this “going around the sun” business will end up having the Earth burning up in the Sun – and our “personal” particles (aka bodies) will help fuel a giant exploding Sun! That sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it? Keep that in mind while I delve into a little “end of winter” reverie….
The snow IS gradually receding as we reach March - and trails are becoming slowly exposed for running – and I find myself way too sad in saying goodbye to the cross-country skiing season. I had another great 2 hour ski up Sourdough Trail. It looked like the dead of winter once you got far enough up the trail/road. Why sad? This is a horrible confession - because it means I have to get ready to…walk/jog/bike again. What? Wait a minute - those hours up Bozeman Creek were blissful. I saw no one after mile 2. Fresh snow had just fallen - I had winter wonderland all to myself.....is everyone really geared up for running now? Suddenly I was Jim Bridger out there looking for my traps and checking behind my back for the Blackfeet - knowing no other white man was within a week’s ride away. It had that wild feeling – I skied across fresh moose tracks. The wilderness feeling crowded in upon my senses. It was exhilarating. I know many people go up Baldy all through the winter - I’ve tried that but I kept looking down on an exploding civilization all around below me. Here, the deeper you got into the wilds, well, I even started thinking about Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they went through the wardrobe and found themselves in a snowy, foreign land. I found myself looking around for sounds of a carriage carrying the White Queen. I found myself desperately wanting winter to last for ever (not that I wanted an audience with the queen). I stopped deep into the woods past mile 7, and just stared around. Tears started welling up. It seems so weird trying to relate it on paper after the fact. I can get these same sensations in the summer (assuming it comes) too, going deep into an area where no one else goes very often. It is said that wilderness nourishes the soul. I faced that thought, and wondered what it really means. Man is a social being, no? So, being with friends or other humans should do all the nourishment necessary, no? What made me try with every fiber of my being to soak up the moment - deep breaths, intense feelings, thoughts like “I belong here, and nowhere else right now”...or “I don’t want to go back down, ever”....or “I want to freeze this moment and never forget it.”
Oh. Then I remembered. When everything isn’t going hunky-dory in life, wilderness becomes an escape/perspective-giver from problems. And don’t some problems need a way to be escaped from? Out there, everything is so completely free from human encroachment, its devoid of humanities’ stupidities and machinations and idiocies. If it all feeds the soul, then that must mean the soul needs something other than daily human life trivia to keep alive. Every twig, every fallen tree, every snowflake seemed to be in the exact right position. Don’t touch a thing. This is the way life should be. I’m an observer out here - and I don’t want to disturb a thing - hopefully the little double ski tracks aren’t too much to upset the balance. I felt like I was tip-toeing away. As the trailhead approached an hour later, I did feel the “whew - there’s the car, and a safe way home” feeling. But I also felt, “suck it up David, here we go again. Put your game face on and re-enter the human race.” At least I know again that there is an alternative to the way things seem to be.
And now, several days later, I’m still breathing in deeply and feeling the effects of being out there.....and planning the next outing so I can recreate the same feeling to keep me going another span of time. (parts of this are borrowed from a Winddrinker article I wrote 12 years ago)
- David Summerfield
David Nutter Summerfield
The following blogs were first published in The Windrinker, a running newsletter published in Bozeman, MT (www.Windrinkers.org). There is a constant attempt at viewing the foibles of long distance runners in a humorous light so we don't take ourselves too seriously.