I wake up early this morning, my body used to a time zone more than 1,800 miles to the east. But in anticipation of some free time in the early hours just after sunrise, we mapped out a jogging route the night before.
I brush my teeth, lace up my running shoes, and hit the pavement.
Getting the feel of a new place is harder when you board an airplane in one city, then miraculously touch down in another. The subtle changes that happen to the landscape from the window of a car or train are condensed and magnified with air travel. I left corn fields and wide open spaces. I landed in coastline and mountains.
My run begins downhill for nearly half a mile. It doesn’t bode well for the end of my run, this half a mile I will have to ascend on the return home, but starting out, it gives me the momentum I need after a few busy weeks followed by a long day of travel.
The air is cool, a breeze in my face. I am prepared with a sweatshirt, but I can’t fairly judge the temperature after the high 90s we have been having at home. Is it 70 degrees this morning? Or 46? I can’t tell. I glance down at my iPhone and click on the Weather Channel app. Though I barely know where I am, the Weather Channel finds me in just seconds. Oak Harbor, Washington: 54 degrees.
I run past burly brambles of blackberries, majestic purple thistle, occasional mystic sea roses. The Queen Ann’s Lace stands sentry on each side of the road that I am on, property of the United States Navy. I am a welcome guest here.
On my right, off in the near distance, I hear the crows cawing from the cattails. The sound is quickly followed by the musty smell of stagnant water. These tide pools are active and busy during the storm season. For now, they rest and ferment.
I keep running, the sound of my shoes on the pavement beating along with the lapping water to my left, just beyond the piles of driftwood.
Eventually, I get to the one and a half mile mark, and turn around. Now the harbor is on my right. This place I’m running is actually an island, and a few other souls join me for a taste of island life. A father and son fish; a man and woman have brought their dog.
I am walking now, the temperature rising, the sun directly in my eyes. I try catching my breath, wondering how it could have grown so hot so quickly. The Weather Channel with its eye still on me says only 57. It’s I who have grown warmer, not the island.
My glasses steam up as the heat from my face rises too quickly in the cool morning. The same thing is happening to Mount Ranier in the distance. Only, the mountain is cool and air is warm in comparison. I can barely see it through the haze this morning.
I want to keep running, keep pushing myself, but I am tired. So I make my way from the road down to the beach. This is not a beach where tourists come with their margaritas and beach towels. This is where children make forts of driftwood, and dogs are the only ones brave enough to enter the 50 degree water.
The tide is low, and I am thankful for this brief opening of time to walk here. The boundaries of ocean tide are firm, and there is comfort in knowing the swells and shrinkings of this beach follow a rhythm, are bound by the hands of a Maker.
I dip my hand into the clear, cool water and bring it to my face. I smooth it across my forehead and let it drip down my cheeks. I bring another handful, trying to cool myself down – not to 57 degrees, like the air. But to 97.
The water pools in the crease of my lips, and I lick it. Salty. My sweat mixed with the sweat of God.
I climb back over the driftwood to the road, run about fifty yards or so up the hill, then I walk the rest of the way to the house.
I write from a different place, and yet I write with others. I am joining LL for "On, In, and Around Mondays" to tell our stories from the places we find ourselves. Follow the link above to see where others are writing from.