These days I’m thriving when I get out in the woods or on the beaches or cliffs or mountain (Mt. Tamalpais). Hunting mushrooms has taken me into areas I’d never have gotten to otherwise, and taught me to look. Running has given me the ability to cover a lot of ground. Last Friday I took off in the late afternoon, headed on a 2-mile run uphill to a mushroom spot of which I am acquainted. After a quarter mile I realized the ground was parched, even after some early rain. It had been a hot October, and there weren’t gonna to be any stinkin mushrooms in the dry woods. Water. That’s what I wanted. Moisture. So I veered off and headed cross-country toward the biggest canyon in sight. I got to it and as I started up the creek bed, there was more and more water. The sunlight had that deep autumn orange late-afternoon clarity mingled with black shadows. I eventually came to a perfect little pool, with dappled sunlight, that is, shadows made by moving tree leaves on the bank. A small holy place. Whereupon I immersed in the cold water, head under. Try it some time. Get your entire body under cold water, if only for an instant. No, it’s not pleasant to contemplate, or even do, but the after-effect is a spectacular surge of circulation and revving up of chi. Trust me. I digress.
I notched up my cross-country running abilities some years ago by hanging out with a runner named Ron Rahmer. Ron’s license plate said Run-N Ron. Ron was always looking for obscure trails, breaking new ground, going where few had gone before. He was a mischievous guy. I ran with him a lot for maybe two years, since we were the oldest in our Tuesday night trail running group. A totally different trail every week, never doubling back, always circumnambulating. I learned how to spot sparsely-traveled trails, like maybe a few deer went this way per week. This opened up all kinds of alternative routes in the woods, and I got into the habit of getting off main trails. Ron died at age 67 in 2004. I still think of him every time I get lost in the woods or stuck in the brush, or for that matter, find a subtle trail. Still Run-N with Ron.