Running Weather

Today is running weather.

Fourth grade takes a thirty minute recess out at the track that lies northeast of our elementary school. On days when the ground is too wet inside the track area for soccer and kick ball, we do a “walk and talk” on the track. Today, it’s more a take off and burst free kind of day. It’s running weather. If you’ve ever seen yearling colts let out of the barn into a pasture, you’ll get an idea of what happens. Bucking and snorting and laughing, the kids spill out onto the track in mini-herds of fresh, exuberant silliness.

The Texas sky is a blue, cloudless sapphire umbrella that makes fourth grader’s hands fly up to touch it.  We’ve had rain for the past few weeks, so every surface is covered in color. Lime green spring grass, freshly mowed on Monday, scents the air with a primal, vegetable garden smell. The sun glints off the chain-link fence that surrounds the track and the rain puddles sweat out in the low spots, reflecting the open sky in shiny blue patches. The wildflowers, dandelions and wild verbena, dot the turf, which is crawling with tiny bees and sandy ant mounds.

I get a front row seat to supervise recess on the decaying wood benches that line the track. I watch the children walk by, arm and arm and I am nostalgic about the sweetness of this time of life. A time when it is ok to walk arm in arm, boys plotting fake army battles and the grossness of the lunch bunch and girls talking about hair and the new cheer they just learned.  I catch snatches of fourth grade conversations as they run by, punctuated with the cooing of the doves in the surrounding neighborhood trees.

“It was my first date and it only lasted five minutes.” from two boys running by. I would hate to break it to them, but I’ve had some of those too.

“She only sat next to him to make you jealous.” This from a group of girls. Drama, even in fourth grade.

“I’ll race you!” The boys burst past me with floppy shoestrings flying, tennis shoes slapping on the gravel track and red, sweaty faces grinning.  It is a day for laughing. It’s running weather.

The Meeting

haunted path

The light was failing. I walked faster, pulled my coat up around my neck.

It looked like a leaf. Yellowed and curled on the edges, the letter fluttered in the afternoon wind; mixed with the amber avalanche of fallen leaves on the path.

“Judith, it said, My time here is done. Look for me in the fall, I’ll be waiting at our spot. ”

I looked up the path, half expecting to see Judith and the writer of the note locked in an embrace. The quiet was heavy in my ears. The trees seemed to close in, muffling the sound except for an impatient rustling and swirling of leaves settling down to the forest floor.

“She didn’t come.” I thought.  “But still he waits.”

Walking on, I can see the first green tips of crocus beginning to push through the leaves; sharp fingers like bones reaching up through the earth.