I hopped the gate and jogged slow down the gravel road. A constant breeze blew all day, making the mid 80-degree temperature bearable, but the breeze I expected had died into an oppressive Georgia humidity. I’ve ran, hiked, swam, and lifted since I was in middle school. Staying active, and particularly running, has saved my life, but I’m not in great running shape right now. However, the past week’s time working in the bar with blaring music, strobe lights, and talking to drunk folks had me needing some solitude. I enjoy the social scene and a few brews, but there’s only so much noise one can take, so I drove home to the country of northwest Georgia.
The afternoon heat beat me down, reminding me that I am not yet acclimatized for the sweltering months ahead. I was lucky enough to spot two buffalo beside a tall fence. I kept jogging, up and down hills on gravel roads. I stopped and checked out two peacocks, some mules, and donkeys. These animals are rescues, and are sheltered on a large property near my childhood home. I had never noticed how large peacock’s feet were, three toes and reptilian skin on legs that look like a dinosaur’s. The peacocks winked at me, as curious of me as I was of them, and I turned to continue my run.
At the base of a hill, in a little draw by the road, a coyote studied me. I don’t know how long he had watched me, but nothing was lost to his keen senses. Fire orange fur mixed with black on his coat. He scurried across a culvert and disappeared into the woods. As I jogged past a lane cut through the woods, the coyote stood fifty yards away staring at me. This was the third coyote I’ve seen in the past few weeks. They have invaded the surrounding area, and I plan to start hunting them. They’re exquisite creatures, and their instincts are sharp, but I’m more concerned with the deer population. I nearly stopped to look at the ‘yote, but I read that these dogs are so smart that they’re never fooled twice. Therefore, I didn’t want this boy to get more looks or smells of me other than what he already had in case I happen to come across him with a rifle in my hand.
I passed the second lake and had to walk up a steep hill that I used to run. My mind quickly returned to my worries. I run to sweat those worries away. When I heave for oxygen and my legs burn I’m not thinking about the countless things I need to do, but as I walked everything came pouring back. Last weekend was the anniversary of a tragic time in my life, so I was filtering through my memories and recalling how brutal the world can be. I started running again.
Crows flurried off a wooden feeder as I crested a ridge. A little further I glimpsed a turkey sprint away into the woods. I ran slow along the ridge. Sweat poured over my face and down my torso. I had dropped my shirt miles back. On the high ground I spotted two hawks circling for prey. I descended down the ridge on the maze of gravel roads I became familiar with a few years back. Running around the first lake, on a stone bridge, a black snake around five feet long raced away from my pounding feet. I jumped on the small bridge and stood over the snake. There were patterns subdued under the black film on the snake’s back. It shook its tail against brush leaves to imitate a rattler which made me smile.
I ran through high grass next to railroad tracks and jumped back onto the road I began on. I saw two rabbits and grabbed my shirt before striding out back to the gate where I started.
As I walked on the road back to Bubba Glen’s house, I was hot for one, but also thankful for the amount of wildlife I had just seen. The clouds thickened and I heard a few rumbles of thunder as I walked up to my Explorer. I stretched my legs and the patter of rain on leaves clapped across the street. I sat under an oak tree and watched the rain spread. Thunder rumbled pillow soft like it does on late summer nights. I let the rain drop on my already soaked body.
It’s great to be social and spend time with friends and family, but sometimes we need an escape to sort some stuff out and basically get away from all the noise. On a normal day, we interact with countless people. I love people and I enjoy company, but sometimes we feel more human when we get away from the crowd. That’s how I felt after coming across a variety of animals on a run that kicked my butt.
Some of the staff are linking up this weekend in the swamp to have a HALO hangout. I’ll be headed to Florida to offshore fish in the Atlantic, and if all goes well I’ll have a cooler full of fresh Mahi. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.