My morning began with a conspiratorial chat between a horse, a sheep, a goat and a rooster. Sometimes it takes a while to wake up on day-break runs. I was sort of groggy for the first few miles and not until I hit my favorite water fountain on the downhill, was I fully awake. Then I questioned whether or not I had lapsed back into a weird dream. Behind the wagon wheel fence of what I’m guessing is a horse boarding facility, the nostalgic call of a rooster reminded me of my many morning runs on Maui. But I was drawn further into the scene, as I heard a horse making huffing sounds and bowing his head in the direction of a sheep who hurried over to his corral. The sheep was joined by a goat and I swear the trio were hatching some sort of a scheme. It looked as though the horse, with his lowered head was whispering to his two barnyard buddies and both goat and sheep, ears lifted to their friend’s muzzle, seemed very enthralled with what he had to say. The remainder of my run was filled with theories on what their conversation contained. Was it a plan to escape from their fenced-in yard and join the fun on the trail? Perhaps it was something more mundane, like gossip about the goose? I even wondered if the horse was letting slip some information about which beast had befowled the barnyard last night, as the aroma wafting from the yard was particularly pungent this morning. I guess I will never know what secrets those three were sharing but here is a photo I snapped before I ran on my merry way.
Speaking of animals, here is something else odd I was pondering on my morning run. (Seven miles is a long way, plenty of time to think!) I guess it was because I saw a lot of hummingbirds on the trail this morning, I was remembering my Grandpa Harvey. In life, he loved hummingbirds, had feeders all over his yard, sat in the backyard nearly every evening watching them zoom around. After he passed away, we saw a hummingbird at his funeral and ever since, whenever I see hummingbirds I think of Harv. But today I was reflecting that this animal connection to the afterlife is not just limited to grandpa Harv. When my dad passed, I ran a lot. It was my therapy. I remember feeling it was a safe place to cry because with my shades on, tears and sweat would look the same to a passerby, so no one even had to know. Often times on those runs a couple of spring times ago, I would find I was being followed by Robins. It just so happens my dad was named Christopher Robin. Now whenever I see a Robin, I think of dad. Whenever I see a Red Tailed Hawk, circling high, I think of my dad’s father, Earl. It hurts my heart to think of how long it has been since my sweet cousin Joel left us, but strangely I feel his presence in the predawn when bunnies are near. If you knew what a giant of a man Joel was, you’d find it funny that I think of him when I see a tiny trembling bunny. But I always remember him being up before everyone, he probably saw tons of sunrises in his life and he was a big guy but he had a gentle heart. So somehow when I’m running across a grassy expanse just before the sun comes up, and cottontails are dotting the lawn, I remember Joel. Now I am not too firm in my beliefs, I like to think I’m still figuring them out, so if you question me on any of this I’ll probably back down. I don’t attest that my relatives have reincarnated as animals, but it is in nature that I feel closest to God and to my own spiritual side. So I think they know they can find me there and maybe sending a furry or fluttery friend my way is a vehicle for communication. It’s just a thought. Like I said, plenty of time for thinking when I am on the run.
Last night my husband and I had a date to go see the wisteria blooming at Scripps College. Right before we took this picture two hawks, soared very close overhead. All I could think was, “Who’ve you got there with you, Earl?” Well, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, right Horatio? Hey, that gives me an idea! I’m going to call that horse Horatio from now on. Perhaps the horse was saying a eulogy for a farmyard friend. If people I’ve loved who have died come to me in animals, maybe beloved animals who pass can come to us through people. What could Horatio have said in his solemn speech to comfort his compatriots? “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”