“We have to do that every time I visit,” I told him between breaths.
“Okay,” he said.
Even when fall morphs into winter. I don’t care.
We walked. Instead of watching my footing, I watched him. Each careful step, every glance around at the surrounding foothills. Meanwhile, I stepped in a puddle. He looked at me and laughed.
“There’s a puddle there, you know,” he said.
I just scowled at him and kept walking. But then I smiled and laughed at myself, wet right foot and all.
A left turn began our ascent and we climbed, climbed, climbed. The grass licked and tickled my shins, leaving its wet residue. And, even though the rain had subsided before our adventure began, I hit the tree branches with my hand, spilling the bright green leaves’ contents onto our heads.
He just laughed.
He always does.
I took note of fallen, slippery branches in preparation for our treacherous descent.
Four soaked feet and a heavily breathing black dog later, we reached the top. The trees spilled more droplets onto us there and he held me as we looked at the thick, broccoli-floret foothills.
Then the fun part.
We took off, running down the hill fast enough to be positively thrilling. My wet feet slipped in my wet shoes as they pounded on wet dirt and wet fallen branches. I stuck to the middle of the path, away from the manmade trenches on its sides. His steps pounded close behind me and I let myself go, allowing my legs to absorb each impact, only to keep moving and moving.
Faster and faster.
Around the bend avoid that stick stay in the middle of the path keep running listen to his heavy breathing focus Emily focus don’t roll your ankle lift the branch away from your head keep running don’t let him pass you move to the unsafe side of the path to block him keep running balance your breathing watch where your feet land feel the mud kicking up onto your back keep running.
Laugh with him.
Faster and faster.
Over two mud puddles in a steeplechase-esque jump, landing safely on the other side. Keep running.
I kept going. Everything else fell away and I focused on the ground in front of me. The path in front of me. The obstacles in the way. I took them as they came instead of worrying about them in advance.
He taught me this.
Just let it happen. Just go with it. Whatever happens happens. It is what it is.
Back on the dirt road, I bent over to catch my breath.
“That’s better than a lot of things,” I said. And I meant it. So we’ll do it every time I visit. Rain or sleet or snow or shine.
He smiled. He always does. And he probably said something that I can’t remember now. But then we held hands and walked back down the road, escorting dark blue storm clouds and welcoming them.