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“Running on Empty…”*

*written by my rock & roll hero, the late, great Tom Petty.

For the past 6 months, I have been “running down a dream*.  Or jogging. Or plodding. I attribute the plodding, not to my age of course, but to the advice of my wonderful  physiotherapist. She is the young woman who saved my life by telling me, after months of her pushing and pulling my muscles, that my right side ailments were likely not physical in nature,  and that I should get to hospital immediately, and get my brain checked out. So when Sharan tells me that, if I want to keep running into my eighties,  I have to shorten my stride to a geriatic cadence now, I listen.

So, the point being, is that when I plod along the street called Lakeshore, in the beautiful golden community of Oakville, I have lots of time to think.  My companions are varmits like coyotes and squirrels, and charming little chipmunks and grey bunnies.   Every day, a red fox trots up the sidewalk from the Lake, and disappears into the undergrowth, looking for breakfast.  Most days, he proudly trots back to the den with a furry evidence of a successful hunt hanging in his jaws.  I don’t look too closely but sadly, I have not seen my bunny friends lately.

My plodding track is Lakeshore, the “Gold Coast” of Lake Ontario. It is an avenue lined with multimillion dollar faux Tuscan villas, where 5 bedroom 3 bathroom homes are routinely torn down to build 5 bedroom, 8 bathroom homes.  One pissoir for everyday and an extra just for the guests.  These are homes that have an attraction that have always eluded me:  why would anyone, except Martha Stewart perhaps, that doyenne of domestic excess, need a gift wrapping room?  A gigantic, stylish laundry room for people who have people to wash their clothes?  Stunning “chef’s kitchens”   with appliances that are never turned on? I imagine in a town where a Maserati is the weekend runabout that these type of trappings of wealth are normal.  I admit to envy of the kitchen (I already take most of our clothes to the cleaners). When I see, horrors, an empty water bottle lying on the meridian, I am surprised that the ground has not opened up  beneath it before the Mercedes SLK leaves the driveway.

But what is not normal, at least to me, is the lack of civility. I plod along in what I refer to, tongue firmly in my cheek, as my “running burka”.  Not to be guilty of cultural appropriation here, (and again, with the tongue) but I always go outdoors fully covered.  Long tights, long sleeved windbreaker, hat, and sun glasses. When I was crewing on my brother’s J24 race boat, 10 years ago, there was little shade, so I dressed  the same way. And always in black.  Hence, the moniker, “the sailing burka” was born. My husband has had melanoma and I am not taking any chances.

So perhaps I do look like the unibomber, but really, would it kill some of my fellow outdoor exercisers to raise their hand in acknowledgment? They need not even say “good morning.”  Just twitch the fingers of the right hand.

But perhaps they don’t know that “the twitch”  is part of the universal runner’s etiquette. It’s the unwritten code. So I have made it my personal mission to enlighten them.  I have taken to giving everyone that I encounter a little wave of the hand and  a cheerful “good morning”, louder if they have ear buds in.   As any friend of mine  will tell you, this is not normal  behavior for me, to be so resolutely chipper, especially in the morning, before coffee, and to strangers.

I have lived most of my life in the comforting coccoon of anonymity of the city.  Where you barely make eye contact, ever. But this behavior has really irked me.

I am hoping its not because all of that wealth has made them insufferable snobs.  But I am going to try a little behavorial experiment  tomorrow:  rather than wear my usual cap which has a barely visible but respectable BVI Divers Tortola badge on it, I am going to don the cap emblazoned with a large USA-76 Oracle BMW Racing logo.  Ben picked it up in San Francisco when he was at that race. And we shall see how many more waves I get.

Now you may ask what am I doing jogging when I am recovering from 7 weeks of radiation therapy.  Fatigue is one of the side effects of this treatment and I am really feeling it now.  Only a month ago, I would wake up at 5 and wait impatiently for sunrise,  so I could go outside without worrying about running into those stinky black & white varmits.

Now, when I see the last block, I really  have to dig deep to give it my usual sprint.  But as my Spanish speaking friends would say “poco a poco”, or  “Little by Little.”

I have put some photos of the beautiful gardens and wrought iron gates from my morning outings.  A coincidence:  when Ben and I were scouting out sources in San Miguel for some additional wrought iron work, we found an agreeable American man who was designing large pieces for homes.  And for gates in Oakville, Ontario.   Really.  He told us Oakville was a big part of their business.  Every time I plod on Lakeshore East, I can think fondly of San Miguel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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