It was 22 degrees F this morning at 7 AM.  And the sun was still asleep, and my thought upon hearing the alarm was that I should be, too.

My number one symptom of being really down is wanting more sleep.  Not needing it (although I can usually convince myself I do), but wanting it.  Wanting to just roll back over and let the world slide past.

I skipped running yesterday for this same reason, but under the excuse that I just had too many other things to do.  Mom was not pleased when she saw me later in the evening and said “So, how was today?” and I reeled off a long list of accomplishments without mentioning any physical activity.  She frowned at me.  “You said you were going to run.  You know what you need to do to make yourself feel better.  Make it happen!”

And that was the extra boot I needed this morning.  Crawling from bed, hiking tights above socks below shirt beneath fleece, pulling on shoes, the final motion of diving out the door into the cracking cold was at least partially driven by fear of my mother.

Thank God.

At 7 AM on a Sunday, there’s no one else out.   Perhaps a couple cars driving slow in the early dawn, or two people in the bakery straightening table clothes and preparing displays, but other than that clear roads and walks.   Heading up Main Street, the cold made every molecule of air sparkle and dance.  The air had gained a clarity that made the houses on Hamburg Mountain seem a couple leaps away instead of miles, and miles seemed like a foolish way to measure things anymore.  And to the east was the ever-brightening tinge of gold, providing a reminder that the colors now showing in the shop fronts and on the edge of Preservation Hall were previews, half-realizations of hues yet to come.

I ran up Main Street and then to the east, toward the not-yet sun, out and up Hamburg Mountain Road, switching to the next ridge over from my parents’ house and pushing closer into the mountains.  Out of town, up the flanks of Hamburg and nearer to the foothills of Craggy and Snowbird and the Blacks before turning onto Dogwood to head down towards Reems Creek.  And running that ridge, I was entirely circled by peaks: Town Mountain before me; Hamburg now behind, the Smokies and Max Patch out beyond town to my right; to my left Snowbird and Craggy; and way, way off, somewhere in that gilded fringe, Mitchell.

And the sun still had not risen, but it no longer mattered, and indeed I liked it better.  For as I dropped down into the Reems Creek Valley and then moved off the valley road to start climbing back up the Dry Ridge toward home, the rising light seemed to lift my feet just a little as they beat cadence on the  uphill, and breathing hard was not a synonym for suffering.

Standing on one leg in the shower, scrubbing between toes, I found myself singing bits and pieces of “You Make Me Feel So Young.”  I’ve never been a huge Sinatra fan.  And I don’t usually sing in the shower.  But it seemed right this morning.

Driving to church, Mom looked over at me a grinned a little bit.  “I heard you singing in the shower.”  “Oh yeah…yeah….I guess I was…”  She smiled knowingly.  “Mmm.  Was it a good run?”

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