Some days I leave the bike locked up and go for a run instead. At some point, when I start feeling tired, I fantasize about being hit by a car. Not fatally, but just enough. If I were, say, to be bruised by the hood of an SUV, I could allow myself to stop running and walk home. Usually, I start thinking like this a little after the halfway mark—I have to go all the way back, now?
On one of my favorite Cambridge routes, I turn around at a little stone church in the village of Coton. After that it’s forest and an ever-so-slight uphill, as the path crosses over the highway. This morning I must have been particularly rapt in my hit-so-I-don’t have-to-run scenario, because out of nowhere—SMACK!—my foot struck something solid … and furry. A squirrel? Yes, there it went, scampering back into the woods.
My route takes me away from Cambridge proper because I like running through the quiet fields—at one point, I even have to scale an old fence. Sometimes I see bikers and dog walkers, but mostly it’s just me and the thick, heavy mud that clings to my shoes. I can let my thoughts scatter and collect them when I get home. It’s nothing like running through the busy cobblestone streets in town, where being hit by a car would be fatal.
That little British squirrel—if only my childhood dog could have been there! I think back on all those pumpkins that were viciously hollowed out by squirrel nibbles. I never imagined that I would avenge my childhood jack-o’-lanterns all the way across the Atlantic, on a supposedly mellow country run.
Reader’s Note: Every day for the next couple of weeks, we’ll be presenting new entries from “Along the River Cam.” Check here for the latest post.
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