Going Batty

Posted on July 26, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Twice this week I hit the road at just the right time. Although I enjoy any morning run, I especially love running early, when night and day collide, during that short crack in the dawn when the birds are not yet up and the bats are getting ready to call it a day.

If I run with my eyes up, I can usually spot dozens of bats flitting and diving for their last meal before they disappear.  They’re hard to spot against the darkness at first, but as the sky fades to pre-dawn lemon, they’re pretty visible.  If you know what you’re looking at.

It’s easy at first to mistake bats for sparrows, but they don’t fly the same.  Or sound the same.  As soon as the bats disappear, the sparrows come out to chase down the scraps. I’ve seen a sparrow hunt a bug as big as its head, chirping bloody murder all the while, and win a meal big enough to feed a family of four.

This time of morning is the loudest of the day.  The treetops quiver with birdsong.  Long before they arise from their nests, grackles, doves, sparrows, and every other bird in the neighborhood announce the dawn.  If you’re quiet and run without an electronic device shoved in your ears, there’s no mistaking nature’s music. My favorite.

If you want to see the bats and the birds vying for the sky, you have to be quick. The crack closes in less than half an hour.  It’s about that time right now, in fact. I guess I better get moving.

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The Busk, or why I run before dawn

Posted on January 4, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


There are a dozen reasons to run before dawn.   There’s no traffic.  Car exhaust and other pollution haven’t elevated to choking level.  Running sets your metabolism, you get the day’s run out of the way, it’s mental preparation for the day.  These reasons all ring true for me, but there’s something more.  With each sunrise I am reminded that every day is a busk.

In spring when the corn began to ripen, some American Indian tribes held a busk, a cleansing ceremony whose purpose was, in large part, renewal.  Tribe members cleaned out their homes and threw all broken or unwanted items into a communal heap, which they burned. A new fire was kindled, and from it all the fires in town were kindled.  During the ceremony, all offenses except murder were forgiven, and a new year began.

The Unity Church practices a ritual with a similar purpose:  The Burning Bowl.  In this New Year’s ceremony, individuals make two lists, one of the things they need to get rid of, and the other of their intentions for the year.  The first list is burned; the second sealed, to be read later.

Both rituals serve the same purpose as New Year’s resolutions do for many of us.  A new year promises a clean slate, the potential to do things right, set new goals.  It’s a chance to start life anew. The opportunity to remake ourselves into something better, stronger.  (Faster.)

Some seem to think that if they don’t set New Year’s resolutions, they’ve missed their chance for change.  But we don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve for that clean slate.  We get a new beginning every day.

Each day that I get to run before dawn, I am reminded of this.  A sunrise is like an opening hand, pink fingers flaming across the sky, releasing a new day.  The most brilliant dawns remind me of a fire eating through the detritus of the previous day, cleansing it of the good and bad, clearing the way for new growth.

One reason running fills me with gratitude–I get to witness this.  A new beginning, every day.  Another chance to live right, do right.  Another day I am blessed with.

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