Posted by: thehungryrunner | August 29, 2008

The Smell of Water, the Crunch of Acorns

One of the reasons I love running is the fact that it pulls me back to earth — literally.  Even when I’ve chosen to don my headset and let the sounds of Neil Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry” add rhythm to my strides, it’s as if someone hit the “pause” button on that zany, fast track of brain chatter that otherwise accompanies my every move, allowing my senses to once again be amplified to the simplest of pleasures.  Interestingly, those pleasures aren’t always of the organic kind; often I’m just as contented at the observation of rush-hour traffic whizzing by when I’m on a main drag, of the collective aroma of dinners being cooked at the homes I’m running past, of kids at play.  The hum of activity electrifies and soothes me at the same time.

But of course, there’s nothing like the sights, textures, sounds and smells of the natural world, and I was reminded of this on my run the other day.  The first delight was when I ran under someone’s oak tree; with its acorns littering the sidewalk, I felt a satisfying “crunch crunch crunch” as my feet clomped over them.  When I was a kid, a favorite pastime was to scavenge for “whole” acorns — ones whose caps were still attached, so this brought back a flood of happy memories.

The second earthy delight of the run came every time I ran past a house with the sprinkler on.  We’ve had an exceptionally mild and pleasing summer, but one that hasn’t seen enough (almost any) rain lately.  Bad for lawns, good for runners who enjoy the smell of water not only hitting the parched dirt, but also the sidewalk and driveway (ever notice that the concrete gives off its own interesting smell when wet?  what’s up with that?).

The serenity didn’t last but a short time — by the time I was driving home from my 9-miler my head was filled with the endless to-do list, just as if no time had passed, but it was a blissful reprieve while it lasted, and without a doubt the essence of that pure joy carried over well beyond the reaches of those fleeting experiences!

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