Port Meadow is bordered on the west by a canal and to the east by train tracks, the latter thankfully screened by a wooded area. In the center of the meadow is a marshy pond. Although it’s public land, anyone is allowed to graze their livestock on it. I saw only swans and other birds during my walk, but the frequent appearance of dried cow patties throughout the meadow attested to its use by local livestock.
I stupidly went to sleep late, well after midnight, but still woke up when my alarm sounded at 6 am. I got dressed, laced up my shoes and was out the door in minutes, even forgoing my ipod as I was too lazy to strap it to my arm.
During my trot through town (I’m not such a pansy after all) I only came across one other person, a local store owner prepping his shop for the day. He looked at me as if I were clinically insane then continued about his business.
I crossed over the bridge spanning the railroad tracks then descended the hill towards the gates into Port Meadow. Once I cleared the trees I saw that I was not alone. Not only was there a man walking his dog who cheerfully wished me a good morning, but in the middle of the field through which I was planning to run there was a herd of horses, probably about thirty of them in total. They were beautiful. In amongst the group were about a half dozen foals as well. I paused for only a moment, wondering if I should continue on my planned path, but decided that these animals were probably quite used to human company in the meadow, so I continued on.
They paid me little mind. Some would step to the side of the path as I approached, but others would just continue doing their thing and make me trot on the grass around them. I didn’t care. I was just amazed at the situation.
It probably bears mentioning here that I adore animals. For the longest time I actually planned on becoming a vet a la James Herriot until my obsession with archaeology took over completely in high school. Part of me still wishes I had chosen that path instead, but the greater part of me knows that I probably couldn’t have coped well with losing patients. If you screw up in archaeology, no one dies (unless you’re Indiana Jones) and that is much more my speed, I think.
Anyway, I continued on the trail, spotting two herds of cattle in the distance as well as a plethora of bird life in the pond including a large number of swans. I entered into the next field for the last quarter mile of my run, spying eight rabbits on the path, before my turn around point.
As I came back into the meadow I noticed that one herd of cattle had now joined with the horses. All seemed to tolerate the biped in their midst with mild resignation which was much appreciated, I have to say. I tried to keep a careful distance so as not to disturb anyone during their breakfast, but most of the time I was still within arm’s reach. As I passed through the main gate again, I turned around for one last look at my companions for the morning’s run before continuing on, very glad that I had finally tried a new running route and that I hadn’t brought along my ipod.
I will definitely be running in Port Meadow more often now, if only to catch a glimpse of my four-legged friends once again.
Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)