Sunday, September 29, 2013


The first rainstorms are rolling through the Northwest. The dry landscape is sucking in the moisture, burping mushrooms from the soil, purging seaweed beds and thinning trees. Water hangs in the air, soaking all that moves through it. Ms. Riley and I are trying to squeeze in a run during a lull in the weather rage. My mouth tastes salted from the thick shoreline air. I lick my lips. Behind me, my breath becomes a path of haphazard exclamation marks: white puffs lingering on the trail, then disappearing into the ferns. Green leaves prematurely rip from their thresholds and spiral downward from the skies; the wind gusts and shakes sheets of rain that envelop me in drenching bursts. Limbs rub and groan and creak against each other. Mossy branches, needles and pine cones litter the path. Our trail dips through dim second growth forests that seem to glow, all white mist back lighting darkened tree forms.

Ms. Riley races through puddles. My leaps fall short of the shaggy edges; my toes are squishy and loose, sloshing in the tops of my sneakers. We round a corner, and are assaulted by discordant shrieks.  I clip Ms. Riley into her leash. We pause. In the trail is an injured crow, cawing! head turned to us, and hopping awkwardly down the trail. Caley sits and sniffs the air. The cawing echos through the dripping trees, swirling in the wind with the fog that is filtering through the branches. I shiver as I watch the terrified black form freeze. The crow catches that eye to eye moment with me, as if to ward off threat, as an invitation to kindness.
It suddenly feels too still and just downright eerie.
I turn and ask Ms. Riley to follow. Reluctantly she lets me tug her back round the bend.
We could have been in a grade B movie horror clip, there could have been zombies hidden behind every tree trunk, or a gruesomely tortured animal on the trail ahead sporting a Big Foot imprint embedded in the soft mud beside it.
I don't feel like fighting off a spook today. I find a different trail back to the car. One with sideways rains and open fields and obvious thistles.

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