Sweet Surprises

Here’s the kicker about this life: sometimes a sweet surprise materializes right in the middle of the ordinary, presenting us with a reminder to be open to magic and to be filled with gratitude.

Yesterday was “Run-Walk Day” on my training plan. That means I walk for the first half of the 4-mile loop around the lake, then run 1:00 intervals, followed by 2:00 recovery for 24 minutes, then I stroll until I’ve reached my starting point. It’s a lovely combination of ass-kicking and leisure, and I’m finding I enjoy it even more than the 3-mile “steady” running of the past.

Yestrday, right around interval #5, I hit a favorite spot on the trail. It’s covered by a lovely canopy of leaves overhead, and the path winds up and down a small rise at the same time it makes a few gentle turns, so it’s easy to forget traffic and civilization lie just on the other side of the trees to the east.

Up ahead, I saw a young dad with two wee ones. The little boys were old enough to walk unassisted, but were still only as tall as waist-high on adult. I’m woefully ignorant of the characteristics of kids, but I’d guess they were just past being toddlers. The younger one — shirtless, edges of his diaper sticking out from the waist of his shorts — meandered behind his dad and brother, clutching some leaves in his hand. I idly thought to myself, “I hope that little cutie hasn’t gotten into the poison ivy” as our trajectories on the trail brought us closer to each other.

I was near the start of my next running interval when our paths crossed, halfway caught up in my own little world of sweating and breathing.

The little one waddled right over to me, smiled up at me, and then thrust forward his left hand to offer me a pink blossom. I took off my headphones and leaned down toward his cheerful face say thank you. He giggled, then scampered away.

I finished my run with the stem — and sweet inspiration — held gently in my left hand.

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