The earliest I ever remember going running is about 4:40 a.m., before catching a flight to Colorado. The latest I remember going running was one time with Tim at about 9:45 p.m. after he left his running shoes at a friend’s house and I had to drive across town to retrieve them. Between those two ends of the spectrum, there may not be a single point on the clock that I haven’t at some point been out on a run, but nonetheless I’d be hard pressed to name my favorite time of day for running.
Some of those times, like first thing in the morning on a weekend or right after the schoolbus picks Holly up on a weekday, are strong contenders for favorite due to their convenience level. Other times, like early afternoon after a well-balanced lunch, seem to suit me best physically. But I’m flexible about what time I go running, and that’s advantageous as well as convenient because it reminds me that the same route can change dramatically not only with the time of year but with the time of day.
Yesterday, various responsibilities – teaching Sunday school, helping Holly with a homework project, going grocery shopping – prevented me from heading out for a run until the relatively late hour of 5:45. Since I planned to be out about 45 minutes, I knew this meant dusk would be approaching by the end of the run, but the town’s footpath system ensures that traffic isn’t a danger even after dark, so I headed on out.
Dusk did start to fall, and even earlier than I expected, likely because of the thickly forested parts of town in which I was running. It had been quite a while since I’d run at this time of day, though, and doing so yesterday reminded me of what a lovely time it is to be out. Normally I notice lawns and house exteriors as I pass various homes; yesterday I was instead aware of the warmth of lighted rooms within the houses. I glimpsed a few neighbors in their kitchens making dinner, a comforting sight. The trees had a soft dark-gray sheen as darkness approached, and the sky was a milky periwinkle shade, much lighter than the ground. During my last mile, the moon rose, and I looked up at the pearly three-quarters globe hanging over the fields near home as I finished the route.
I’d put a casserole in the oven before starting the run; from the driveway I could smell the aroma of seasonings and cheese. I was slightly chilled but so happy that the day was over and I could settle in at home for the rest of the night. It’s not the ideal time of day for a run, but dusk has a beauty all its own, and I was grateful to be immersed in it once again.