I ignored the first black glove but the second one required intervention-I scooped it up and went back for its mate, only to discover that they were not a pair. The almost fully composed posting for the community forum, reuniting some snowmobiler with a favourite, perhaps only pair of gloves, tumbled from the page I had started in my head. Now that I had interrupted my pace for nothing other than roadside litter pickup, I felt compelled to do a thorough job at least and stooped to gather the various cans, bottles and packaging that appeared every ten steps or so.
It got me to thinking of the items I’ve unearthed over my years of running:
Several multi-purpose tools have found new homes in our tool boxes, drawers and truck consoles as a result of my roadside gleaning; these have not made me any more mechanically inclined, sadly but I am prepared.
In the upper meadows, I regularly stumbled upon, sometimes literally, a disquieting number of large and random nuts, bolts, trailer clips and u-joints which I would lug home to my husband for identification, after which they would join the mysterious, shadowy stockpile of similar items lurking in the shop. How the various pieces of equipment did not shake to bits in the middle of the road after the loss of these parts was a thought that could entertain me for at least two kilometres.
Flip flops, boots, shoes, socks, mittens, t-shirts, shorts and bibs all turned up at one time or another and then I’d imagine the scenarios that led to the disappearance. Did people just get sick of their clothing, suddenly, half way up the valley and toss it to the wind? Did they arrive home to mourn the one shoe that had fallen off the tailgate while simultaneously admiring the tenacity of its mate still gamely hanging on? (As with the aforementioned gloves, never have I found a matching pair of anything.)
I did find a somewhat themed collection of garbage and wish I hadn’t: the doll’s arm peeking out of the gravel turned out to be a rather large sex toy (still there for some hapless archeologist years hence.) Further along, the melting snow revealed a porn library. I picked up my pace at these finds, until my mind could only concentrate on getting my body to the next telephone pole. Thank goodness for speed work.
Money-you’d think I would have found a lot of it but you would be wrong. Once I picked up a wallet that had twenty two dollars in it, plus ID. It belonged to a former student; another time, I came upon some coins and a hunting licence-which belonged to Johnny Cash! Now, that discovery occupied my thoughts for a good half marathon.
The cans and bottles I collected one year paid for another year’s running shoes. One season, my piles of garbage regularly disappeared before I could go back to pick them up; I like to think the deposit money went to a good cause and even if it didn’t, the roadsides were garbage free.
Once I ran home cradling an injured pine siskin and happily watched it fly away from its box nest an hour later. I’ve rescued toads, snakes and a beaver by herding them into the ditches from whence they came. On Suicide Hill, I encountered a young deer by the side of the road and it pattered along behind me to the top curve where I chased it off into the bushes.
Of course, there are other things I’ve found while running and they have been less tangible but more rewarding. I’ve found peace of mind after a hard day’s work; I’ve determined the answers to questions that had me mired in deeply; I’ve uncovered truths and glimpsed solutions.
Every time I set out on a run, my intention is to hit that sweet spot where movement is joyful and where thoughts flow unhindered. If I fail to achieve this running nirvana, there’s always some garbage to pick up.