I wake up at 6:45am not ready for my day to start. I snuggle further into my bed knowing it will just make getting up even harder. Finally, I throw back the sheets and crawl out of bed. I change and get my things ready to go. I wait for my running partner to finish getting ready while eating cereal out of the box. We gather our things and head out to the car. The sight of the frosted windshield makes me wish I had put leggings on instead of shorts. We sit in tired silence while the car warms up. Before the windshield is fully defrosted I pull out of the driveway and head to our destination. Today we have decided to do our morning jog at Stanley Lake.
We pull up to the trailhead and get out of the car. The crisp air makes me shiver and the lingering morning mist hangs over the meadow like a blanket. We walk for a few minutes to warm up and then we jog. The flowers that once bloomed in the fields have mostly died, but the mountains remain. Stoic and piercing, the mountains will always remain.
I am starting to warm up but my skin still feels cold to the touch. We pass by the registration box and I wonder how many minutes have gone by since we started. Probably not very many. I hear a noise and look up-is that an ostrich? My running partner turns to me and says “Sandhill cranes!” Her brain made the connection faster than mine. I tell her what I thought they were and she admits she thought they were dinosaurs for a second. The cranes call at us; they are not happy to see us running toward them. They walk away from the trail and watch as we pass by. They look so beautiful in the morning light; the sun illuminates their bright red heads and slender white necks. They must be looking for seeds or invertebrates to munch on. Only two stand before us now, but when they are ready to migrate, they will fly with thousands of others. These amazing birds mate for life; I would love to watch the dancing ritual male sandhill cranes perform to attract females.
I focus on the trail again so I don’t trip on rocks and roots. My partner and I talk about the upcoming work day and soon it is time to head back to the car. We turn around and I can’t help but run faster. I want to see the cranes again-and go home to eat breakfast. This time, the cranes don’t pay much attention to us so I snap a quick picture. The mist has disappeared and the sun shines fully on us now. It feels so good on my skin. My mind clears and I stop thinking about how much time we have left in our run. In this moment, I enjoy running.