I'm trying to run longer distances. Still slow, but long. I have longish trail I routinely run. It's kind of fun, especially in the snow in shorts so I never get too over-hot. October is hard, for reasons I think I understand. It's the last hope of warmth until April, the last fully orange and yellow landscape, the last month before my birthday, the month my dad died. Bad news falls hard in October so when I saw the big tree lying across the trail, I looked hard for something dead, crushed underneath it. Nobody died but the word "crushed" stayed with me. Fall is crushing.
I had already seen a bone in the trail--some large animal's--probably an elk's. Cleaned to the white, scattered by what I thought I wanted to see. But if I saw what I wanted, well, that would be a great surprise but then I would also be maybe dead. I kept looking behind me for mountain lions. There were none. Both crush and relief.
Then I saw a deer arm hanging from a tree. A foreleg, I guess, in animal parlance. How did a deer get his leg hung in a tree. Maybe poachers. Maybe regular hunters, but I don't think you're supposed to clean your deer by hanging it from a tree. Maybe the deer was doing something weird. Jumping over a falling tree, getting tripped in another. Maybe he was trying to outrun a mountain lion but realized deer can't climb trees.
It was eerie but not gross. How animals die in the woods I don't really know but between that hanging hoof, that scattered femur, and that trail-crushing tree, I had a new plan, or at least something to think about surprise and routine and the inevitably of November and how we make it through October every year, even mostly with surprisingly good things to say about it.