September. The season can’t make up its mind. Will it clutch at summer or declare the death of history & move on ? I remembered that running always gets harder for me in September. Even at 30-odd, with the whole Peak District outside my front door (to be strict, my only door at that time), there was a kind of reluctance. There was a new voice outside. I was listening to it, but I wasn’t ready to rush out & embrace whatever was going on. Autumn was going on. On Barnes Common, autumn going on means more dog walkers. It means oak mast crunchy underfoot. It means dry leaves filling the woodland singletrack to give you a feeling from a Hugh Lofting frontispiece. Today it means in addition horse chestnuts exactly as bright & polished as chestnut horses. I think about scooping some up to take home, but can’t work out a way of doing it on the move without falling over. So I just try to avoid treading on them instead. Falling over in front of the dog walkers would induce a near-fatal loss of dignity. Descending what I think of as the back side of Ingleborough Hill in the late 70s, I lost both shoes to a stretch of bog, in front of three shepherds, several of their clever dogs & about a million sheep. It takes time to recover from a defeat that extensive. One minute you’re belting along, windmilling your arms, leaping down the soil-creep terraces, with a fairly good opinion of yourself; the next you’re slinking back up hill to pull your box-fresh New Balances out of the peat.
I like it now, this period of indeterminacy; but I want October. We’ve all made up our minds by then. October is ok. Hormonally, it’s get things done. It’s last chance for fuel. It’s hi to winter.