I hit the dirt yesterday in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. This section of the reservation is very close to my house. For a small swath of woods in this heavily congested metro area, you would think it would be overrun by bikers and trail runners, desperate to get some shade and a break from the stop lights and pavement. I’m always amazed to find that I have the trails to myself, almost unnervingly so. It possesses a vacant feeling.
Maybe it’s because it’s hilly and not well marked in there. The area may be small, but more than once I’ve gotten lost and ended up exiting the woods in neighboring towns, completely disoriented. And I grew up around here. There’s something kind of inscrutable about it.
I may have mixed feelings about my running prospects in these local woods, but I really appreciate it as a dog owner and a mother of two toddlers. In the morning I took them for one of our “hikes” in a section called Whip Hill (sorry, no picture). By hike I mean a meandering stroll involving much messing about with sticks, moss, and boulders. Plus, snacks. My three year old spent much of his time trying to camouflage himself, having just learned what that meant, while my daughter did a reasonably good job of walking under her own power; a few Mommy-pick-me-ups notwithstanding. By all measures a successful hike on Whip Hill.
Can I just digress for a second to say how obsessed I am with my children and enamored with the magic of their childhood. It’s magical in its fleetingness. Their beauty can cause my chest to tighten and my throat to constrict. No moment is perfect yet every moment is priceless in its imperfectness. Children are a mess of clumsiness and emotional unruliness. no moment is safe. But they are so beautiful and so vital. Being with them in the moment is absolutely when I am most alive. Of course I can’t say I am always in the moment when I am with them mothering them. That would be a lie. I am human and they frustrate me send me searching for distractions on my iPhone. But when I’m present, which is often enough, it’s pure love in action. A close second is running.