Monday, October 27, 2008


David Foster Wallace, a far better craftsman than most of us, once wrote that the wind in the cornfields by his B/N home sounds "roughly the way light surf sounds when you're two dunes back from the shore." I figure this to be an apt metaphor. It was 16 miles on country road. The field corn stands browned by the season, by the changes in light and temperature that visit us, a sound not unlike Wallace's description is all that's in my hearing range. Undulations here like the last few seconds after you've shaken out the bed sheet. That is to say, not rolling so much as wavy. Not flat, as they that don't turn off the main road would have you believe. In the next field stands a solitary, majestic bur oak--the old timers call these "plow trees," left for shade in the middle of crop rows. Most are gone, yet a few of these old, huge trees still hang on.

It's a solid run early, these are the runs of the new season, the ones that steel you for the winter to come. 40's, clouds to start. At an hour twenty I turn down the county road towards the river. Sun emerges, dancing off foilage. Then shadowed out. Partly cloudy, partly sunny, mostly cloudy, I've never understood. Over the bridge, the river is up, but not enough to challenge the banks. Where it should be, really. Healthier than it is during those evaporative summer days, but calmed from last month's floods, back in a natural rhythm, at least what passes for one in these times. I drink this in in the few seconds it takes me to trot over the bridge.

Up the hill, definitely a hill here. No waves. Past the elk farm, then the tree farm, water at the turnaround a mile of rolling (not wavy) hills later. The way back for runners is often into the wind; today is no different. Fifteen minutes of headwind then back into the river valley. Mostly sunny wins in this stretch, for that I'm grateful. Trees dance again. Your fingers don't freeze in the valley, not on days like this. Back into the headwind, I don't really mind, past men undoubtedly hunting in these bluffs. Not me, not today. Just running.

Energy lags a bit, small snack, then homestretch. Here's that small bridge, you know, the one that doesn't look like a bridge anymore but just a road with guardrails over this small section of creek, the real bridge was ruled too risky, so they hauled it wholly into town and put it over a section of this creek with no traffic, car, foot or otherwise. A real bridge to nowhere. I'm glad they kept it, but there is something sad about a worn out, depression era bridge left to just sit, not allowed to serve its purpose.

This thought carries me up that last swell of former prairie, those last two dunes open up into ocean, my ocean--the one where the wind sounds like surf, but isn't really.


Tim said...

I just read about David Foster Wallace in Rolling Stone. Big article about him. I confess I didn't know about him. (I read but obviously am not a literature buff.) Interesting guy. I want to check out some of his stuff. Sad ending to his life.

Tim (Iowa guy)

PS. If you and some buddies do a group run some weekend at McNaughton, feel free to shoot me an email. Odds are against me being able to come since I have my daughter every other weekend, but you never know...

dirt_trail_runner said...

hey tim,

you saw the info on the dec. 13th fat ass out at McN.

i'll be out there quite a bit this winter if you want to drive over on a weekend.