It was just past eight when I took off down the street for an evening run. We've had remarkably agreeable weather recently: low humidity, blue skies, and cooler-than-average temperatures that have kept the grass green during a month when lawns normally are baked to a dull, straw-like yellow.
This evening was no different. The air, almost crisp, transported the evening sounds and smells. I navigated a mile away from my immediate neighborhood to a pocket of homes nestled into our mountain.
If viewed from above, I imagine these roads stretching outward like a tic-tac-toe board drawn with the imperfectly crooked penmanship of a child. Horizontal streets cut across the steeply-sloped vertical streets that climb their way up the mountain. Along the way, an eclectic mix of houses -- classic Victorian beauties, nondescript double-wides, weathered farmhouses in need of painting -- are planted on small lots between crooked sheds and well-tended gardens.
Technically a village that possesses its own small post office, this tightly-clustered neighborhood always has intrigued me. I cut between the streets onto the alleyways, listening to the crunch of my shoes on the gravel. An older man sits on his back porch and raises one hand in a silent greeting as I pass. The glow of a kitchen light provides a momentary glimpse through a window of a woman washing dishes at her sink. I smell the fragrance of a Rose of Sharon bush that's dropped a cluster of petals, snow-like, onto the ground below. I hear the sporadic pinging from a parked car, its engine still cooling off after its driver retired it underneath a rusty car port. I catch a wisp of cigarette smoke. The crickets serenade me.
I feel like I've stepped back in time. Every step feels free.
In these past eight years, if I've ever felt trapped by the responsibilities of parenthood, it most likely was on a summer night. A night like tonight when I wanted to take off and be out -- out past my children's bedtime, out without having to plan in advance for a sitter. Out soaking in every ounce of daylight before it fades; out reveling in the inky black darkness that follows. Just out, with no cares, no curfew, no responsibility, no need to supervise the teeth-brushing and bath routine.
Summer has a way of whetting that desire for wind-in-the-hair freedom, and this run somehow both awakened and slaked that thirst. I've rarely said this about distance, but as I raced the dusk's descent into darkness on my way back home, four miles seemed not nearly enough.
Oh, summer nights, what a gift you are.
Looking to while away these lingering summer weeks?
"Like motherhood itself, Then I Became a Mother is full of laughter, tears,
unforgettable stories, naked truth, and beauty. I will recommend this book to my
very own sister, and I recommend it to you." (Laura Booz, Amazon Review)
Image compliments of Thomas van de Vosse (flickr.com)