This morning the broken ice rang out like cowbells where the water runs from the fields and spills into the lake. It rained last night. And is still drizzling. But I slide the hood of my jacket down from my head so I can better hear the morning.

The ducks and the crows laughing. I always like to think they’re laughing. Probably not though. At this time of year, they are probably squabbling over territory and partners.

I take a deep breath. This is beginning again. My thighs a little sore from the previous run. The trail seems just a little bit longer than I remember. And afterward, my body moving through the yoga flow sputters and spits mild curses.

Leonard’s wet nose on mine while I’m trying to chant and visualize a still, blue body of water. I guess routine is something that we all need to wriggle back into. It’s ironic that by the time my medications kick in, it won’t be possible to know if it is the medication or the strict routine they require that will make all the difference. Not that it matters, and not that I care. All that matters is finding the middle path again. Away from the jagged edges, the thorns and the ice.

I wrote “I pour a cup of coffee” and then deleted it. I put a cup under the shiny spout and press a button, actually. And for the first time, I think about that tiny, lost ritual: pouring the coffee.

Don’t people in movies and books always say, “Shall I put the kettle on?” Maybe I will buy a tea kettle that whistles, just to listen to the hot water gurgle from the spout when I pour a cup. Loose tea leaves in a metal cage that clinks against the ceramic. A greenish haze in the water, escaped bits of stem. The word “shall”. Yeah, so a bit of appropriation — anachronism at best -: a bit of play-acting. But there’s comfort in that.

Instead, the coffee machine grinds the beans with a rude noise. Dumps water into the little glass coffee cup embossed with IKEA on the bottom.

There are some changes I would like to make in my life.

Every winter there are weeks we stay away from the morning route, to avoid running on ice and risking injuries. The dry cold never lasts long. February softens. The snow disappears. But always, we see clearly along this tiny stretch of landscape, that the earth is changed — every time. The path floods at different spots. The hen moves her nest.

We know we need
the familiar we crave
the novel and 
the woods provide attention
demands participation

I’ve been uneasy running alone in the mornings lately. It’s odd how this fear pops up now and then. I haven’t kept track of when this happens, and think it may well be that it always happens this time of year when it seems the world is suddenly dark at 6 am. Maybe it’s instinctive, and fine, and not paranoid at all to be uncomfortable as the earth so obviously shifts on its axis in relation to the light source.

I remind myself that the trees aren’t dying. They’re making way for new growth.

Odd that we talk about “spring cleaning” – when Autumn seems to be the season when nature sorts through what to keep and what to let go of.

I stopped to take a photograph and the bushes rustled behind me. Wind, or blackbirds, or even a squirrel.

I passed two people at the lake this morning. An older man walking, who diffused my fear with a “God morgen”. Which gave me the momentum to say, “God morgen” to the woman I later ran past farther along the trail. I realized how rare it is for us to greet each other here – it seems we only do this on these dark mornings, maybe an instinctive gesture of comfort?

There have been two murders here in the last half-year. One, still a mystery. I thought about that when I laced my shoes this morning, having finally settled on the trail shoes over the street shoes. I wondered if it mattered if I ran through subdivisions or along the trail. Then I tried to sweep the discussion out of my mind, reminding myself that I’m more like to slip and die in the shower than run into a monster at the lake.

Then I remind myself that is not exactly a productive train of thought either.

I put on my headlamp and a reflector vest, and I gave Leonard a consolation treat as I headed out the door without him. The hound is more interested in dust bunnies than hare, and I’m safer on the run without him skittering between my legs and potentially tripping me every time someone passes us.

Or every time there’s a rustling in the bushes.

There’s a somewhat steep hill about 2 kilometres into my run. Steep enough to force my pulse up when I ascend, and steep enough to challenge me on the way back: trust your body to run down hill. Let go of a false sense of control – trust your instincts, trust your practice, trust the knowledge in your limbs.

Breaking with each step is murder in the knees.