Today I am a trail runner.
I am at 10,000 feet but I am not breathless.
I struggle up the path in preparation for the run down, determined to make gravity my friend.
Trees grow tall alongside the trail. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be the sentient trees of my imagination. I touch their rough bark fondly. They are still tall and imposing. Breezes pass through leaves. Branches rustle and sway. I watch and listen carefully just in case they really are sentient.
But no, it is just the wind.
Wildflowers bloom and I follow the path alongside a lovely stream.
There are other people out here. We are careful to stay distanced from each other. We even step off the trail crushing fragile plants beneath our feet so as not to come too close.
The usual friendliness among hikers is muted. Just another casualty of the pandemic. We avert our eyes and scurry past.
I turn at the top of the trail and prepare to decend. Rocks are everywhere. Are these the sentient rocks of my imagination?
I jog downhill.
Backpack uncomfortably shifting on my shoulders.
Watched by the trees.
Laughed at by the stream.
Tripped by the rocks.
I am almost at the bottom when the final rock grabs me.
A moment of panicked awareness.
Falling. Hands stupidly flung out. Body flying forward.
A fast blur of images.
Dirt flies up and covers me where I am lying on the path.
All is quiet. The trees, the rocks, the stream.
They are done with me for now.
Chastened, I walk the rest of the way.