Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Constancy or madness in the midsummer heat?

I've a piece with the ABC today, 'Constancy or madness in the midsummer heat?'

I'm writing about running in Melbourne's midsummer - the impressions and ideas that arise in my short, slow jog. (Note the 'short' and 'slow'. Do also note the warnings from Ambulance Victoria.) A sample:
Alongside the pleasures of reverie and rhythm, I value jogging for its regularity. Running in rain, wet socks from streaming gutters, wet chest and stomach from three layers of cheap cotton. Running in pollen storms, sneezing past the plane trees. And, yes: running in Melbourne's summer, when I can barely breathe for the burn. It is cheap, fast and - for this clumsy, stumpy-legged lump - simple. It is a small commitment, but one that encourages a certain autonomy: I feel more myself when I keep up my jog, whatever the weather. This is a version of the virtue celebrated in Jane Austen's Persuasion: constancy (not lunacy). 
This is small consolation as I count the metres, but it will do. I'm steaming but composed. 
I arrive at our unit to find a family of magpies at our bird bath. They turn to look at me, beaks gaping. Then they peck at worms dried on the driveway: summer jerky. The sparrows, normally on the lawn, are nowhere to be seen: smaller bodies dehydrate more quickly.  
Inside, the kids are slumped on the couch, draping on each other annoyingly. As they bicker in the lukewarm air, I down a huge cup of water and too-ripe banana, then check my phone. Only one message, from my mum: Don't run today. Madness.
(Photo: Gary Ticehurst/ABC)

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