Just before dusk, I’m running along the rail trail, where train tracks once lay, when a woman steps out of the brushy woods, puts her hand over her chest, and gasps.
I’ve frightened her. She’s dressed in hunter’s orange and holds a rifle pressed against her body.
I stop. There’s no one else around, and I have the sudden terrible feeling that I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m wearing the ripped blue sweatshirt and knitted cap I always wear.
It’s hunting season, and I should be wearing orange. She looks angrily at me. I nod, edge away, and then keep on with my run. On this run, I’m mostly worried about a skinny dog at the one house I pass — a creature who doubtlessly is harmless. I run through the thick woods between the highway and the Lamoille River, snaking through its bends. It hasn’t escaped me how the wilderness presses right up against the village where I live, in acres upon acres of woods where I hardly ever see anyone.
On my way back, I again meet this woman with a florescent pink mask over her lower face. I’ve seen no one else, save the dog, and I slow to a walk again and apologize for not wearing brighter colors.
Jesus, she says and keeps walking.
Not long after, back in the village, the twilight drifts down like a gray snowstorm. My daughter’s school is closing again, perhaps opening in December, but maybe not. All around us, the pandemic continues to upend lives, through loss of in-person schooling, jobs and childcare, and the widening gulfs of isolation.
Walking back through town, I admire the holiday lights turning on as the darkness filters down — lights of all colors and blown-up snowmen and reindeer. The day has been unseasonably warm for November. Take this in, I think. And next time, bring a mask and wear orange, too.
“Writing often reveals us to ourselves, lets us name what’s important to us and what has been silent or silenced inside us.”
― Gregory Orr
8 thoughts on “Friday Run”
When I lived in Maine, this was always a concern. One woman was shot and killed while in her back yard by a hunter. She had on white mittens which the hunter mistook for the flick of a deer’s tail. Please do remember your orange.
This is a really unfortunate story. Thanks for the reminder to be careful!
Sometimes excitement gets the best of inexperienced hunters.
I’m sure it took a while for your heart to get back to normal! A good reminder to all that the virus is not the only thing out there to maneuver around!
Oops in my anger I commented on the wrong post. If a hunter screws up and kills someone it should be treated as murder because the intent was to kill. That Maine story above makes me sick to my stomach.
Have been on both sides of the equation as both hunter and as someone who spends time in the woods as a non-hunter, I have to say that anyone who mistakes a human for a deer no matter what the hell they’re wearing is not someone who should own a firearm.
‘Jesus’ is how she responded to you so generously apologizing to her? What an unpleasant person. I forgot about that (for me) dark side of being in the woods. Yes, please stay safe.
Scary moment…thankful for your writing. It’s always beautiful.