I have started a morning running club. When Pat pointed out a few weeks ago that I enjoy running when I actually do it, AFTER I had the obligatory defensive temper tantrum about how I’m getting plenty of exercise and what, isn’t my figure satisfactory to him, and how dare he comment and what business it is of his and blah blah wah wah, I went running the next day. Not so much to prove anything or show him or WIN, but because we had (very quietly after my outburst) watched several clips of mighty snowboarders and world-class athletes the night before and I thought after seeing these mere mortals champion slopes I wouldn’t even look UP, much less finesse my way DOWN, the least I could do physically is go for a morning jog.
So now I’ve been going most mornings, walking some when it’s extra rocky or steep or slippery, but going. And I ran into some ladies who frequent my favorite road, some with babies, so I talked them into joining me, or at least letting me run past or through or near them. We have the same gait, a disjointed uneven pace, a distracted sense about us because there is SO much to look at in every direction, and we make similar noises when we stumble on rocks or stub our toes because we weren’t looking where we were going. I call us a club. They call me an intruder. I think of them as friends and look forward to hearing them before I turn a corner and see them staring me down. They think of me as a weirdo on two legs expending senseless energy when nothing is chasing me but hey, if I’m running they probably should too. For a spell. Until they see there is no danger and start munching brown grass again. I know they are cows. They know I am harmless. They are beautiful and mostly content and the sun shines on their backs and eyelashes and warms their faces. I know just how that feels.
But this morning they were gone. Eerily absent the whole scene. I felt stood up, unsettled, without. Alone. Were they moved? Sold? Hiding? Onto something I haven’t figured out yet? Quit the club without saying goodbye? I don’t know the answer. I’d like to tell you these two guys were out grazing the same spot, a replacement club to discover and join, but they are the last of this summer’s wild herd, a painting that should have emerged with the others but didn’t until now. I would also like to tell you why, from the same stack of reference photos, this ONE would hold back and appear in different shades and shapes, a different feel and era, when this horse and this donkey were there in the very same sunlight as the others I painted and posted in August. I would say I have about as much control over these paintings and where they come from and when as I have over my ladies’ running club, which is probably true for the bulk of my life, which is to say close to none. I can show up most mornings, try not to fall down, call the whole thing mine though it’s obviously not, and make it home in one piece. And whether it’s cows or horses, ladies or gentlemen staring me down, I can say hello, share the road, and wish them well. And look for a new club to start tomorrow.