I set off. Running on icy roads on Winter nights when the fields are covered in snow is a precarious activity. You seek out the crunchy bits underfoot and avoid the darker, smoother bits. If your feet stop crunching on the frozen snow you know you’re likely to go for a Burton.
I know a point on the roadside exactly a mile away from the gate. When I reach it I’ll turn round and come back. Roughly half way there, I come to the edge of the village. All of a sudden there are no more houses – and no more lights. The dark shapes of trees and bushes loom up around me. On the ground, by starlight, I can just distinguish those dark, potentially icy parts of the road from the snow.
I’m almost a mile out. I come to a short, steep hill. I’ve been slightly worried about this ever since the start but it turns out to be not as slippery as I expected it to be. I soon find myself at the top, running along the edge of the moor. It’s not far from here to the “one mile” point. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I reach it: not because I want the run to be over with but because up until this point I’ve been running West, into the oncoming weather. The Western sky is full of cloud. The view on the return leg is far preferable: I’m now running downhill, back towards the village. A dark landscape studded here and there with man-made lights falls away from my feet. Overhead, the sky is clear and full of stars. Jupiter lies straight ahead.
It’s not long before I’m back among the lights of the village and not long after that before I find myself back at our gate. I run on past it, as I usually do, to the end of the lane. Once there, I stop. I stand and stare. A shower of fine, crystalline snow is falling. I feel it rattle on the crumpled hood of my waterproof. One of the great things about running is that when you stop you feel warm, whatever the weather. Stood in a snow shower surrounded by snow and ice I feel no discomfort (although I might if I stand for too long). This probably serves to intensify what I’m feeling at this point. How can I put it? It’s a feeling of no longer being an individual but merely a part of everything (which we all are, of course). I feel not like a transitory, running blogger but like the whole universe looking out through the eyes of that transitory, running blogger. Jupiter hangs between the branches of a nearby tree. It -and the stars around it- feel to be merely a distant part of what I am, what we are. How long I’ve stood there staring, I’m not sure. Long enough. The transitory, running blogger reasserts itself. It’s time to go in.
Once in, I grab a ballpoint pen and a pad of paper. I write. I keep writing for several minutes. Then I stop and read what I’ve written. It’s almost right, almost what I meant to say, but not quite. Writing down exactly what I felt out there in the lane turns out to be impossible, like trying to recall, on waking, a dream I’ve already begun to forget.