Sunday, July 18, 2010

the certainty of weather

I have held fast to my self promise of jogging. Since my birthday I have dedicated nearly every day to at least one mile on the treadmill at the office gym or out here on the sparse roads of Jackson. Yesterday I was outside jogging and the urge to keep going started to overcome me. I ran past my normal turn-around point and kept a steady pace towards route 22. If I ran there and back to the farm it would be a little over two miles, the farthest my recovering body had taken me since my reincarnation as a runner.

It was hot. Probably in the mid eighties and humid. There was a chance for storms, and if any weather could bring them, this was it. The going to hit 22 was all downhill and easy, I barely huffed even in the heat and sun, but soon as I turned back the grade started to change and every step gained ground.

Suddenly, I broke out into a sweat and the simple mile turned into quite the obstacle course. The hilly climb was brutal for me, an out-of-shape runner. My only goal was to not stop. I could slow down to a mockable crawl but I had to not walk and just keep jogging. So much of jogging is mental. If you let yourself stop, if you allow it, you always will. So I kept on. Only when I hit the driveway did I lurch into a slow walk. I collapsed into the shady open bed of my pickup and looked up at the sky. Blue.

My heart sank a little. Weather reports had been calling for storms for weeks and they rarely came. I would get excited, gloat to my coworkers about the weather, check my zip code every hour online hoping the chance for precipitation would crawl up 10%. I adore storms. They make me feel more like me. Yet the sky remained blue and clear as a still pond. I cursed it.

I am a girl who does not care for calm weather. It makes me lazy.

I came inside, panting. Something about running outside really whips me. I can run twice as far on a treadmill and just need some water and a shower, but really moving my body over distance slams me into a forced submission of anxiety and fear. When I run I am too focused on just completing it to start worrying about money, or relationships, or deadlines, or letting people down. I can only think about going home. And when I get there, when it's over, I instantly forget the suffering and just revel in the selfish satisfaction of completing a task. The proof is in every sucked in breath, the cramps in my side. I love it.

I walked into the farmhouse and headed straight for the dark, cold, kitchen where I grabbed a quart mason jar from the fridge and then sat on the floor, my back against the cold frame. I don't know much about physiology, but it seems that when I stop and drink sweat pours out of me. My hot hands around the cold jar force instant condensation outside the glass. I drink and feel my arms, back, and legs burst into a shine of new sweat. It sounds gross but feels purifying. It feels like bad things are leaving me.

Cold showers are welcomed at times like these.

I had friends over last night for a cookout and movie; three couples. One couple brought their year-old daughter, and the other brought their puppy. The third brought a batch of chocolate mint pudding. We barbecued, laughed, drank and watched JAWS (one of my favorite movies, fitting for summer). I loved hosting my friends and filling up my hungry self with good food. Later when things calmed down and we were all watching the movie, I could hear the thunder outside and feel my skin prickle with excitement. Finally, a storm was rolling in. Blessed event. I almost wanted to sigh with relief, having waited so long. I couldn't sit still. I left the camaraderie for a bit to step outside alone (certainly with three couples no one notices when I scurry away).

Outside the storm was windy, dry, and beautiful. Thunder came and the sky lit up but no true rain came. I retired to the bed of my pickup truck again, it was right there. Once again I was on my back, watching the sky. Just hours had passed and so much had changed. I hoped I could conjure the same changes in me: to be healthier, make better decisions, be more protective of myself and smarter about how I lived. Summer is a confusing time for me. So much effort and hope and planning but it all gets lost in the decadence of the weather. And rattles against the lushness of everything around me. The green maples, the warm wind, the tired body, the taste of chocolate still in my mouth.... I watched the clouds swirl and wished I understood things better than I did. I wished I had the certainty of weather like that, and could change so fast.

The last of the flashing fireflies glowed near the honeysuckle bush, a few drops hit my face, and I just watched. I ignored time, and he ignored me.

Tomorrow I'd run two miles again.


Blogger Pen and Paperie said...

That makes me want to jog!! I haven't been since my last "Turkey Trot" - last Thanksgiving.

I wonder if my body is up for a mile?

If the weather would oblige with an end-of-jog storm, that would make my day! Hmmm...

July 18, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

"(certainly with three couples no one notices when I scurry away)." The deck is stacked against singles in the way that people don't much pay attention to us once "coupled up" with another. Makes me sad, but also gives us the opportunity to do what we want! I too adore thunderstorms and we rarely get them. Love to live vicariously through yours!

July 18, 2010 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Green Homesteader said...

"Summer is a confusing time for me. So much effort and hope and planning but it all gets lost in the decadence of the weather. " That is it!!! I have tried to figure out what it is about summer that disturbs me. I love the planning of my garden and the dream of maintaining it. Then when the intense heat and humidity comes I hibernate and dream of fall which is my favorite season. Thanks for that!

July 18, 2010 at 5:50 PM  
OpenID Too Many Scarves said...

God Jenna,

Sometimes your writing just kills me. I don't know what it was about this post but it just got to me. So much so that it compelled me to leave a comment for a change.


July 18, 2010 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

Beautifully written!

I love storms too and I'm not sure exactly why. It started a couple years ago. Before that, I didn't even like them. Now, I hope for them. It feels like a relief when they come!

July 18, 2010 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

What I love best about the 'after workout sweat' is how it feels when you first step under the spray of the showerhead. When the water tingles against you before slicking off your skin like oil.

July 18, 2010 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


I've been reading your blog religiously since October of last year and am just now getting around to posting my first comment! You and I have so much in common, it's crazy! I absolutely adore storms..and I get so pumped reading your posts that long for Autumn (my favorite season as well.) The pic of your pumpkins made my heart skip a beat.. we are growing pumpkins for the first time this year and they are getting huge, so exciting! Thank you for being an online sanctuary and making me feel sane on a regular basis. You rock! Keep up the awesome work!

July 18, 2010 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

This is a wonderful post. I love how your write, and the determination you have to run is inspiring.

July 18, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger miz hannahlu said...

this post makes this northern California girl dream longingly of the July i spent in Blue Hill,Maine several years ago- the surprising warm rain and thunder,the runner i discovered in my lumpy postpartum body,willing myself a little further down gravel roads that skirted the bays and always rewarding myself at the end by visiting any old graveyard i could find...
discovering the force that can propel us physically forward, even if it is barely beyond a jog, is amazing...enjoy the afterglow, Jenna :)

July 19, 2010 at 12:56 AM  
OpenID geckoontheroad said...

I also find that running on a treadmill is easier than running outside. It seems to me that on a treadmill, all you really have to do is bounce up and down whereas outside you really have to propel yourself forward. Kudos on the jogging! You must be starting to feel great.

July 19, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

Get some free running tips from Runners World online mag. so you don't hurt yourself and make progress accordingly. I love "having ru" - just like "having written"! Maybe you can do a 5K to benefit the farm or farming org in general...I'd sign up! tho it would be quite an undertaking... is there a local running club that could help you perhaps?!

July 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Gosh Jenna, I hate storms. I practically have a phobia about them and here in east central Illinois, I think we have had more than our share this year. It stormed yesterday morning and I just looked at the radar and some are headed our way for this afternoon. I will just reroute them over to you. Lol.

July 19, 2010 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Astrosquirrel said...

Wow -- lots to post about!

I also love running, especially the feeling AFTER you have run: the whole rest of the day you have the satisfaction of knowing you got out there and did something just for YOU.

For me, the hard part is pre-run...when the alarm goes off at 5:30 (the only sane time to run in FL in summer) and you'd reeeeally rather stay in bed! Once you hit the road, you're good!

As far as singles husband and I try to include our single friends in any social get-together, but sometimes we sense that THEY feel awkward or uncomfortable being around couples.

What do you singles think about that?

July 19, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

When you're wed to an adoring, guitar-playing, magnificently-bearded gent please still write for us...please.

July 19, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

hey jenna,

i think this is the first time i've commented on your blog but I try to read your posts every day. i just want to say that i think you're an incredible writer. i first saw your book at a tiny local bookstore in wolfeboro, nh where i lived during the winter of '08 and never forgot it. then i found a link to your blog on ashley english's blog sometime last year and i've been reading your stuff ever since.

thank you for being so open and honest about your life, you really are an inspiration to all of your readers. keep it up lady.


July 19, 2010 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Rabbit said...

Thank you once again for sharing. I keep coming back for more, your prose is enlightened and inviting.

Watching the summers roll by year after year, ensures me that we must pause and breathe deeply and grow with every single crop. We then can enjoy the calming of autumn more intimately.

July 19, 2010 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger The MO Farmers Daughter said...

I hope you are not getting depressed,so are starting to sound kind of down.A man,will find you eventually,just keep on being you and it will happen with time.Did you get my email about your hair,let me know what you think???OK,I am intrested to know what you think of that.along with all of the running,you will loose weight,and feel great.have a good safe summer,carol

July 20, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

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