The past year has meant running and cycling a lot of the same routes near home, varying them to make them longer or shorter to fit my mood: but one thing I’m grateful for living round here is that there is a wide choice. Even so, it’s still good to get a little further afield and to do routes which are new or which I’ve only done once or twice before.
This evening Anne and I had agreed to meet up at Kershope to do the route which Penny and I had first done back at the end of December when there was ice on the ground (the photo below is from December). Today, in contrast, was t-shirt weather and beautifully sunny, although the shady bits in between the trees – which had been so ice-covered in mid-winter – were still chilly. I’d also forgotten how much hill there was in the run; and then managed to go the wrong way at about the 8km mark, resulting in a lovely run along a track and then a gorgeous path between the trees, jumping over fallen trunks. Unfortunately it meant a fairly long final stretch back along the road but I was enjoying being out in the evening sun and with such glorious views.
I’d been waiting until the non-essential shops had re-opened to get new running shoes, and today was the first opportunity I had to make an appointment at Chivers, the excellent running shoe shop in Carlisle (they sell other things too but their core business seems to be running shoes, and they know what they’re talking about). My preferred brand is Saucony – I’ve had several pairs now and been very happy with them – but I was thinking of changing style, and I wanted to try them out before I bought them. I’d seen the Peregrine trail shoes online and whilst it was partly the colours that attracted me, they are also a good shoe – the guy in the shop said they’re a best seller this year. I think I’ll buy myself another Goretex pair as well though, as I’m a convert to having shoes where you don’t get your feet soaking wet unless you’re in water that’s more than ankle-deep. But I really like the cushioning and the lugs on the new shoes, as well as the colours.
Apparently the company was founded besides the Saucony creek, and it should be pronounced ‘sock – a – knee’. The company’s website also says “The word Saucony comes from the Lenni Lenape Native American word “saconk,” meaning “where two rivers run together. Inspired by the original location on the Saucony Creek, our logo represents a running river marked by three boulders.”
I had a real fascination with the Native Americans when I was a kid/teenager: I was probably more in sympathy with the Native Americans than I was with the Cowboys. I particularly felt cross about the way the buffalo had been hunted wastefully by white immigrants to America. I had a book called American Indian Myths and Legends which I absolutely loved, which contained their version of the creation story plus lovely stories about animals as well as people. Every so often I have tried to find another copy: it was unfortunately one of those ones which I sent to the charity shop or something, along with an extremely good book I had about Mathematics (all I can remember about that now was that one was almost square and had bright red boards underneath the dust jacket; but that it also explained maths in a very pictorial way, which is one of my preferred learning styles).
I copied out the Native American poem which begins something along the lines of “I do not want to die a white man’s death, sealed alone and inside a metal box” and stuck it in my scrapbook – I still have it somewhere. I probably started being more interested in the outside world at that point: not in gardening nor even in going for walks with my parents, but just in how I felt if I stood outside bare-footed in the grass at sunrise in summer; or if I stood and listened to the rushing of a brook over stones.
Reading has always been one of my loves and about a month ago I started a book group, prompted by a passing remark from a friend. Our suggested book was Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell; having read that I passed it on to someone else, who lent me three books in return. I have now read those three as well: Toby’s Room by Pat Barker, War Doctor by David Nott and another one which was so memorable I have completely forgotten what it was… I’m now on to Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. As much as anything I wanted the book group to be an opportunity to chat about books generally and to perhaps share books; I didn’t want people to feel that it was compulsory to read the suggested book. We’ve had some fantastic whatsapp chats about poetry and crime novels; meanwhile I have a big pile next to my bed as I bought quite a few when I got some ‘bonus money’ last month, ranging from a history and novels to philosophy.
I find very often nowadays that when I watch a film or documentary or read a book, I look up more details online (isn’t the internet a wonderful thing from that point of view: an enormous and easily accessible encyclopaedia). One thing leads to another and I come round full circle and am then planning bike routes or runs… one of my vague ambitions is to cycle up to Orkney; perhaps not along quite the same lines but Michelle Obama’s book and her comment to ‘tell your story’ has made me completely revise the two books I was trying (very slowly) to write… I may have 6 at 60 challenges but my bucket list of things I want to do and places I want to visit (by bike, by train or on foot) is almost endless!