Friday at 11am. Hurricane Irene flails and flays her first wild arms. Bands arrive hours before the storm's central churn and the frenzy of late preparation hits Wilmington. (While the anticipation of a storm is an exciting thing, the arrival of a storm can be baffling.)
Across the coastal region, whips of gray clouds spiral & march like burdened forms, layer like waxed, heavy brushstrokes, build into impasto smears of sky. Somewhere the voice of a weather anchor proclaims massive winds and flooding in serious, baritone enunciation. The rains are cold, stinging and pushing against my torso, opposing my work before relenting to a drizzle. My shorts stick to my thighs, my shoes are heavy with rain, my watch is confused by the beading rain. The air is electric but cool and it is with half-belief that I watch the storm enter from southeast until it fills the sky, a directionless mass of movement, a swatch.
The friday mid-distance run. . . A morning without compass; an act of habit.
A long run seems an unlikely thing as the garmin beeps into effect. The second mile follows the slow churn of legs as blood-heat pushes into the fold of a quad muscle. I note the birdless sky, the occasional boarded home, the deepening payne's gray of the horizon, the empty lawns, the tilting sway of the rain. A chill in the air. The fourth mile is marked on the garmin with wild numbers tracking an erratic pace (gps signals rat-romp through clouds and weather, an unsteady register, thus data is jumpy). . . 6:12, 7:38, 7:27, 8:24. The park is empty except for two ladies casually pushing a stroller. I run spongy trails to a turn-around where my tailwind becomes a headwind. The wind shifts again from the east. The effect is like swimming against a current; there is a total body force, a complete exertion. As the mantra says, “Think with the whole body,” and running in a storm is a sure way to mindfulness. The band passes with a few gusts, a clearing forms, the air relaxes. My body finds an easy pace for the next three miles, appreciating the familiar terrain of the neighborhood. The run ends with a walk around the block and my eager dog smelling the air as leaves confetti the air.
A storm is a fierce thing when filtered through heavy rain, anticipation, news casts, the true unpredictability of Nature. Like a run, sometimes, you just work your way through a storm until it exhausts itself. And you do so because it just what we do as animals, as people, as those who are alive. The mind, the body, the communion of the two, works with the same dynamics as the atmosphere and the earth. Maybe it is no communion at all, but a reactionary symbiosis. A series of catalysts kissing off the fuel with flame. A necessary rage.