I began running 7 years ago. It’s therapy for me, and also a source of inspiration for my writing. Yesterday’s run was exceptionally beautiful, so here it is, captured in photos.
When I began running 7 years ago, I usually went to nearby parks and ran laps. This was because I was a beginner, and I needed to develop stamina. But running the same laps over and over quickly became boring, no matter how pretty the parks were. I needed a change and a challenge, so I began running in White Clay Creek Preserve, 5 minutes from my home by car. Actually, I can, and have, run to the park from my home. This occurred while I was training for the Delaware Half-Marathon, when I had to run 8, 9 and10 milers on weekends.But I’m training this year. I’m too busy writing the last book in The Storms Series to train, though once the book is published (I’m shooting for May), I may decide to train for a fall race.
The linked article has the history and a map of the area. The park is huge, and encompasses acres of Pennsylvania and Delaware. There is quite a bit of history. I grew up in the area, and sometimes I take it for granted. However, it must have been hiding in the back of my mind, since the park is featured in the Storms Series.
Yesterday’s run began at parking lot one, the closest to my house. I clipped on my old iPod shuffle and began running on the Penn-Del trail, listening to Bruce Springsteen. The trail runs along an old railroad bed. The trains stopped running back in the 1940s. To my left was the White Clay, running slowly, and to my right was a swampy place, with cattails and other stalky grasses. Beaver are building a dam here. Again, it’s strange the way this park figures into my writing. The railroad bed and the beaver are mentioned in book 2 of my series, The Notice.
About half a mile down, the trail takes a turn to the left, leaving the swamp behind, and continues next to the White Clay. For the next mile or so I ran along the trail, stopping at intervals to take photos.
IMO, this Fall has been exceptionally beautiful. The foliage is bright and clean and colorful, without a hint of drabness.
Running next to the creek is soothing and therapeutic. The iPod’s volume is on low, so the running water filters through, along with the sounds of birds, squirrels and the leaves crunching under my feet. It smells good there. I lose myself in visions of scenes I want to write. The music also inspires. If I get tired I shuffle the iPod until Santana begins playing, making me run faster. (IMO, no running playlist is complete without Santana’s Jingo).
Finally I emerged from the trail onto Sharpless Road, an isolated country lane. Nearby is London Tract Meeting House, also known as Ticking Tomb Church, because of the legend of the Ticking Tomb. Please click the link for the legend, and a possible connection to “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. The area was the home of Native Americans of the Lenni Lenape tribe until it was sold to William Penn in 1683. (The church and the plaque commemorating the sale of the Indian lands to Billy Penn is featured in another scene in The Notice).
Once on Sharpless Road I turned right, away from the church. I hadn’t run up the following hill since last spring, so I decided to try it.
I didn’t make it. I slacked all summer long, and I didn’t have the stamina to run to the top, so I power walked. My goal is to run up this hill the way I used to by the end of the month.
Here’s the view from the top. It’s always worth the pain of the hill.
I continued on this isolated road, one of the prettiest in Landenberg. Cornfields were here until recently.
At the bottom of the first hill two hunters had parked. Deer hunting is permitted in the park, both archery and shotgun. My husband still gets his hunting license every year, however, he doesn’t go out like he used to. When my children were young I felt like a single mom at times, due to his habit of spending every late afternoon deer hunting. He’s a pretty good shot with bow and arrow. We always eat the deer he shoots.
These days there seems to be an outcry against hunting, and sometimes, hunters. It’s rather frustrating. I’ve seen comments online referring to people like my husband, son and brother-in-law as “rednecks.” People seem to believe the hunters are dangerous. Um… excuse me? This is country life. If you don’t like country ways, move back to where you came from. In the seven years that I’ve been running regularly in the park, never once have I been scared by a hunter. Not once. I’ve seen plenty of hunters of course, but I’ve never felt threatened in the least. The only people who have ever frightened me are dog owners who ignore the leash rule. I was even bitten once by an unleashed dog. Unlike some dog owners who seem to think rules are for other people, the hunters are considerate of others. I trust the hunters much more than the dog owners.
After passing the spot where the hunters had left their trucks, I came to the smaller hill on Sharpless Rd, and began running up it.
This is one of my favorite stretches of road, since this is the place where the idea for the book that would ultimately become a trilogy came to me while running in July of 2009.
While running along after praying the Rosary I was at a loss as to what would become of America. I felt terrible sense of fear and dread at the thought of Socialized medicine and other such threats to freedom. Again, this was in July, and the fields were full of corn.
It was here that the idea exploded, just as I crested the hill. The tops of the corn blades were visible through the trees at the top of the bank, and by the time I was on the other side of the hill the idea was firmly planted in my mind. I went home that day and began writing about a young pregnant woman hiding in the corn, and my life was never the same.
Above are more fields which will, most likely, be sprouting corn next April. Then I came to the end of Sharpless Road and turned right.
Above is the last stretch of road, nicknamed The Flats. I have a vague memory of hearing that it was once used for drag racing, way back when.
Of course, like so many landmarks near my home, the Flats also made it into the Storms Series. By the time I got there I was feeling tired but also renewed. Like I said, running is therapeutic, especially with so much beauty to gaze upon while doing it. And it’s also inspiring. The combination of running, music and the White Clay Creek just do it for me. I feel like the words will come bubbling to the top when I sit down with my laptop.
My run ended back at parking lot one, below. I’ll be going back tomorrow for more therapy and inspiration.