by Kristi York
It’s the Thursday of my one-week vacation in my beloved cottage community. With the weekend and our departure approaching, I’m starting to feel emotional and know I need a run. My morning has gotten off to a slow start, though, and it’s already hot out there. Nevertheless, I jam my Running Room water bottle into its angled waist pack holder and head out.
For the first few minutes, nothing feels right. The waist pack is too loose, my shirt is too baggy, it’s too hot, and my legs feel stiff. I run out on to the concrete pier and focus instead on the beauty of the bay. The water is nearly flat to the left side, while the wind direction is making it choppy on the right. I yearn for some spray to land on me as the waves crash emphatically against the rocks.
Leaving the pier, my thoughts turn to the ever-present sense of nostalgia I feel about this place, and how sad I am to be leaving it again in a few short days. My mind starts to swirl with questions: have we done all the important things here? Have we made the most of our week? Will this leave a lasting impression on my kids? Will they have fond memories of the cottage, like I do? Have I been happy enough, energetic enough, supportive enough, and attentive enough to everyone this week? Have I done all I can to make this precious annual visit special and enjoyable?
I’m on a narrow tree-lined street now, with small, quaint cottages set back from the road on either side. As I pass the opening to one of the yards, I spot her. A deer, just a few metres from me. She must have heard me clomping her way, but she seems unconcerned and has made no move to flee. I freeze, the way her kind do in headlights. I don’t want to startle or scare her, but I quickly realize this is not going to be a problem. She is completely unfazed by my presence.
I am rooted in place, staring at her. She looks serenely back with her soft, soulful eyes, confirming that “doe-eyed” is an aptly chosen expression. She gazes at me as if to say, “Just calm down. Everything will be all right.” Although there isn’t a fawn trailing behind her, for some reason I feel sure that she, too, is a mother. After a few long seconds, she dips her head and slowly continues along her path, walking gracefully through the trees on her long, elegant limbs.
I watch her go, then resume my run, feeling humbled. I take my time the rest of the way and stop for a short water break at a beach lookout spot. I try to soak up the moment instead of mentally itemizing the packing tasks I will need to do a few days from now.
I often turn to running as a way of coping with stress, but today it was the beautiful natural setting that rescued me from myself. In my head, I say a silent thank you to the doe for providing the wisdom and quiet reassurance that I so dearly needed.
Kristi York is the copy editor of Running Room Magazine and a freelance writer. More of her published work can be found on Twitter @KristiYork19.