November 1

Charlotte Salley
Charlotte Salley

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—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.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Charlotte Salley is a former assistant editor of the Scholar.


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