I accidentally kicked a squirrel last week. It happened on my morning jog. I thought I had cleared the little guy as he and his friends sprinted out from the bottom of a birch tree.
But my big old foot made contact with his chubby body and I think he flew a bit. I looked back and saw him glaring back at me, shaken up but clearly more embarrassed than hurt.
“Listen, little buddy,” I said. “You have got to kick it in gear! If you can’t beat a jogging Laura, how are you going to dart past a speeding car?”
We both shook heads and scampered away.
I am a city jogger; I lope along through parks, past fire stations and over railroad tracks, in shady neighborhoods and by a paper mill.
On my urban route I have startled a pretty impressive variety of wildlife.
Yesterday, for instance, I raced a giant snapping turtle up a hill. I’m pretty sure she flipped me off.
One foggy, Hitchcock morning, a whole gaggle of geese simultaneously turned their heads and hissed at me. I swung wide and hustled home. The whole scene still freaks me out.
A chattering chipmunk paces me nearly every time I pass one corner house, races along next to me a step or two, and then dives into the bushes. One day, I intend to dive there first. That’ll show him. Ha!
Twice I found myself innocently running between a hidden bird’s nest and a helicopter mother bird. I did the duck and swoop dance for a stride or two and thanked the good Lord I escaped with both eyeballs intact.
Here’s the thing about my little feral frenemies — they keep me hopping.
Tomorrow morning my alarm will sound and I won’t want to get out of bed.
I’ll stumble to the kitchen and I won’t want to leave the house.
I’ll lace up my running shoes and I won’t want to jog.
But I will.
And I can’t wait to see what the morning brings…