Friday, September 02, 2005


The pond is almost pretty in the morning light, steam sliding across its silvery surface. Somewhere near the middle, ripples reflect early morning rays—sunlight in its liquid form. The shocking-blue expanse of sky is wide and clear and bright—it is officially going to be a beautiful day.

Along the gray-gravel path, purple something-or-others line up next to white something-or-others next to yellow something-or-others, all against a backdrop comprised of at least six hues of rich, deep green. A blue swallowtail falteringly flutters by, a broken corner of its wing revealing the reason for its plight. We ooh and aah at the striking-ness of iridescent blue on black, and I coax it for but a moment onto my finger, before it falters away again.

The morning is, indeed, beautiful. Normally, such mornings bring great joy to me, especially now that they are growing more temperate again. But all I can think of, as my feet crunch-crunch-crunch in their steady pace along the path, is how much I still hate to do what I’m there to do.

I find no joy in exercise, particularly when done alone, and I must further confess that I think all of those who do are weird, sadistic freaks at the very least. I don’t get it. My husband is one of those freaks. He’s running a 5K on Labor Day. He runs for fun. I run if I’m being chased, say, by a bear or an attacker. Needless to say, fortunately, I don’t do much running.

I try not to think about walking, pressing my pace, pushing my son, prodding myself to go another lap around the pond. I catch a whiff of an almost-fall smell and I am momentarily distracted, caught up in warm autumn-glow thoughts of the upcoming change of seasons. I try not to think about the discomfort, the resistance, the sheer boredom of it all. I try to think, instead, of nearly 70 pounds lost and five more to go. It is enough to make me keep walking, but never enough to make me enjoy it.

I round a corner, entering the two-thirds of the trail that are blessedly embraced by cool, tender shade. The breeze caresses my sweat-streaked face, kindly and gently reviving me if but for a moment. I assure my son that we will NOT go around the pond again, all the while feeling a twinge of guilt for not wanting to.

We conclude our morning by feeding the inhabitants of the pond—whole wheat bread because Josie told us that white bread is bad for ducks, and we are fresh out of cracked corn. It is my son’s reward for doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the ride that my manpower provided, and for doing it quietly. He quickly develops a rhythm—charging me for the morsels I dole out sparingly as the ducks follow at his heels, hungry for the entire loaf. Then he turns, charging the water, and the ducks momentarily scatter, then quickly swarm the two-foot radius around his body where his throwing reach extends. The pattern continues until our hands are empty.

This back and forth—it is where I have lived with my weight, with food, with exercise. I vacillate between wanting to sit in the grass with them all gathered around me, eating out of my hand, saying “Can’t we all just coexist without fear and stampeding?” and longing to cast it all out into the middle of the pond where they can never snap at my toes again. I don’t want to exercise. I have to. For the rest of my life. My husband says, in his “well, DUH” kind of way, that we all do. I think he’s mocking me. I don’t want to accept his statement. I try to anyway. I long to like exercise, to not merely tolerate it or, worse, view it as torture.

Bread gone, the ducks retreat, muttering under their breath about the lack of cracked corn. I watch them go, my anxious thoughts leaving with them. Another day down, an undetermined number yet to go. I will take them one beautiful, bright-blue morning at a time, praying for the day I finally wake up and think, “I can’t wait to work out today.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so proud to now be an AUTHORITY on something. If it
is simply feeding ducks, WOW!
Thank you for referencing me. I'm going to go shed a few tears now.