Thursday, January 1

The Year of the Critter

About eleven months have passed since my last run. I had planned to run as long as possible through my pregnancy, but because of the (slight) threat of miscarriage early in the pregnancy, I had to give up strenuous exercise. By the time I was told it was okay to run again, my body had changed enough that running just didn’t feel right anymore. Now I wait for the Critter to get big and strong enough for me to take him out running in our jogging stroller. Meanwhile, I miss my long Saturday runs under the cold, darkening sky of a winter afternoon and my early morning runs toward the sunrise, seeing the last shadows of night lift from the trees in Prospect Park.

Because I could not run, I spent the year of the Critter going on long walks through the park, taking different paths just to see where they go. In that time, I discovered waterways, bridges, and grassy knolls that in about six years of going to the park several times a week I never knew existed. If it weren't for the Critter, I might have kept on running on the same paths as before. I might never have followed the Lullwater Trail or climbed to one of the highest points of the park to see the silver ribbon of the sea at the horizon.

Below: the Critter on his first walk in Prospect Park. I did all of the walking; he slept.

It's difficult to believe that a year ago today, the Critter was hardly more than a wish—either just conceived or about to be. Among the scraps of poems, stories, and songs that my mind has returned to again and again since the Critter's birth is a passage in To Kill a Mockingbird. Dill has run away from his folks because, he says, they weren't interested in him and didn't want him around. Scout cannot comprehend this situation.
As Dill explained, I found myself wondering what life would be like if Jem were different, even from what he was now; what I would do if Atticus did not feel the necessity of my presence, help and advice. Why, he couldn't get along a day without me. Even Calpurnia couldn't get along unless I was there. They needed me.
Now that he's here—and has changed everything—how I need my little Critter.

Many blessings to all in 2009.

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