Running Touchstones

The distance markers on my short running loop (2.5 m/4.4 km):

Photo: PK Read
Photo: PK Read

The stone wall:  covered in an ecosystem of moss and clinging plants right now. I always walk for the first minute or so. This wall is where I start running. It forms the garden wall to one of the farmhouses attached to the 18th century château of our village. A very small château, and a small farmhouse as well. But there’s still a working garden, a grazing meadow for the horses, and a stable.

Photo: PK Read
Photo: PK Read

One-third marker: Next village over, top of a steep hill, there’s this stone fountain built in the 1870s or thereabouts. It hasn’t yet gotten its spring cleaning. By May, it will have been drained, scrubbed, and allowed to refill. The water, like the water in our village, is from a nearby mountain spring source. Snow melt and groundwater. On quiet days, the small stream fed by the same spring can be heard during most of my run.

Photo: PK Read
Photo: PK Read

Two-thirds marker: Back down a steep hill and then up another, not quite so steep. These lichen and moss-covered stones mark an agricultural crossroads, and also, an excellent spot for stretching. The hill opens out into four large fields and a brilliant view of the Alps. There’s a sign marking an ‘electric fence’ to the right – this borders a golf course. In my many years of running, the fence has never been electrified, but the sign at least looks imposing. An added plus: It’s all downhill from here back to the house.

Back to the stone wall. And home.