Thursday, 19 May 2011

Apropos of nothing

The other day I was hurtling down Curletts Road at close to the speed limit of 100km/h on my way back from the airport, near the Canterbury A&P showgrounds where the 350 campervans hired by the government as emergency accommodation after the February earthquake at a cost of $1.5 million sit empty, when a man, barefoot and naked apart from a flimsy pair of blue shorts, darted out onto the road a few hundred metres in front of me like some startled wild animal. At first I thought he must have been fleeing something, but as he crossed the road and turned and ran past me on the grass verge between the road and a row of tall trees I realized he was simply going for a run.

My mind went back to the incredibly warm Northern Hemisphere spring day in June 2001 (hard to believe it's nearly ten years ago) when Erik and his then partner drove Mrs Fool and me from Erik's apartment in Jersey City where we were staying to West Point, where I ate catfish for the first time in my life and marvelled at the might and sheer beauty of the Hudson River, and then on to Woodbury Common, where I bought a Brooks Brothers shirt. Anyway, along the way - I believe we were on the New Jersey Turnpike - we saw a deer wandering along the strip of grass separating the lanes of traffic going one way from the lanes going the other. I forget his exact words, but Erik said something including the expression "roadkill" that left me in no doubt as to the animal's probable fate.

The night after seeing the near-naked runner on Curletts Road I dreamed I was running effortlessly over rolling fields of grass, and I was barefoot.

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