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Or for my writing, which must happen around the edges of our busy, chaotic family life. In the wind and bright sun, in the cracking ice echoing through the salt marsh, in the flight of the blue heron up above, in the scratch of my ratty running shoes on the sandy, icy shoulder of the road, I am free.And mostly alone, as few runners join me on the slippery roads of winter.Even when others are not friendly to her, Rosa seems to be friendly to They end up going over to Rosa’s house to snack and study, and actually end up having a good time together.
Plots for more novels or children’s stories, bits of poems and, sometimes, when I’m lucky, just beautiful, intact sentences will come to the fore. What I do is I find one word about that idea, one thing that will help me remember. Wouldn’t it be easier to carry the phone or even just a slip of paper and a pencil to record my thoughts? But then I’d have to engage with the device, and it might just be too tempting to check my email or text messages.
I repeat it to myself like a mantra, until I have it. Or I might need to stop; and with stopping and starting, the thoughts, I’ve found, do not surface in the same way.
After my husband has left to take our 10- and 4-year-old sons to school, I pull on two pairs of running pants, two old, knitted wool hats, two thin jackets, a thick pair of mittens, slather my face in shea butter and then I go out into the weather.
The more inhospitable, the better: Once this winter, when I was running in a torrential slush storm of huge, wet, frothy chunks that were sluicing through the sky, my neighbor Bill drove by.
Later he told me that he said to himself, “What idiot goes running in this? ”Though I am slow, I run as if my life depends on it.
Because it does: With two children, the younger one in preschool only two mornings a week, I have almost no time or space for myself.
She always smiles in such a game and inspiring way.
I’m guessing that she knows, as the song goes, that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Sometimes, I peel off into the snowy woods, following deer and fox tracks, until I come to a pristine patch of snow, where I grab an icy chunk flavored with white pine needles and run back to the road, eating it as I run on home, the 10-degree wind burning my cheeks.
So, it is there, moving slower than a granny, that I do my writing in my head. Bits of dialogue for a novel I’m slowly piecing together from notes I have been making since 1998 will loosen from my brain. Though I usually have time to run for just two to four miles, those perfect, crystalline sentences may emerge when I have a mile or more to go before I can write them down. Forgetting.” I say the list over and over in time to my footfalls, until I memorize it.
Like little ice floes in warming waters, they’ll drift unencumbered until I can see them gleaming in the sun. I have a system, one I’ve worked on as the world has become more frenetic and loud to me, as more useless information pummels its way into my consciousness, as my fears for the future of the planet have grown and the bad news screeching through cyberspace jangles me daily. When I walk through the door, I find the first scrap of paper I can lay my hands on and scribble it down.