[I used this preamble before, but credit where it’s due…]
A few years ago, I went for a run and wrote about it in this blog, describing what was playing in my earbuds. Old Tommy Angelo wrote me and said “Take out the damn earbuds and tell us what you saw and heard.” I still usually run with the earbuds – it distracts me from the fact that I’m running, and I enjoying conflating the music with the real world around me.  But you ignore Tommy’s advice at your emotional peril…
So this morning, out in the Bavarian wilderness for a PokerStars event (at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic) I decided that I needed to run without the buds. Our hotel is Die Goldene Zeit, in Germany (Rozvadov sits hard on the shores of the German border – think Jackpot, NV or Tunica, MS).
I rolled out of the front door on a bright chilly (35º?) morning, and saw this.
And I thought, “This is going to be as much fun as a run can be.” I didn’t actually go down this road – it cut off to the right. I realized the road immediately across from the entrance to the hotel headed off toward the “woods”, so I went that way. @Tommy – all I could hear was birds. There was some kind of sign next to one of the fields that had a silhouette of a raptor – maybe it was like “Hawks may be hunting here” – I dunno.
I turned up a farm track, no doubt violating half a dozen trespassing ordinances, and followed it until it opened out into a field, with a wicked view of the mini-forests around it. You could hear cows mooing in this distance, and then my watch started beeping. But I was wearing my GPS watch, which doesn’t do that, and I realized that it was a little bird going “beep-beep-beep…beep-beep-beep.” (which may mean “Stay the hell down – there’s hawks around here!”)
The further I went, the more I thought “This is what James Taylor was thinking about when he wrote Country Road.” Well, not exactly – JT was probably thinking about the country roads of his native North Carolina. But he’d get this:
At the bottom of this hill, an 18″-wide stream ran out of the forest and down into a field, with ice covered reeds bending over into it. It was exquisite. Sadly, as in much of Europe, there’s not much in the way of “deep forest” as we’d think about in Lake Tahoe or the Blue Ridge mountains. But beauty can be writ small:
I did a 5k, which turned around neatly at the end of that road. Got back to the hotel, and you need a picture of my room, because never have I seen such a “nature room”. Everything was pine. Everything smelled of pine.
And then I went down to breakfast. Got my yogurt and fruit. She said “Do you want coffee?” Trick question, right?. But this coffee – I saw her make it. Three (maybe four) espresso shots into a small personal-size pitcher, and then hot water added. An Americano for the ages. Then she says “Would you like some scrambled eggs?” I had run past half a dozen farms at least. I thought “I bet I know where those eggs came from.” “Ja, bitte.” Never have you seen such yellow eggs. Even my co-commentator on the poker webcast commented about their color. And the taste, it was almost buttery, what eggs must have tasted like in the U.S. a hundred years ago.
And with that I was ready (as I’d ever be) for what would turn out to be an 18-hour poker webcasting marathon. But no matter how long I was stuck in a semi-smoky casino, I remembered that run and the sound of the birds in the forest.
I guess my feet know where they want me to go walking on a country road.
 I’ll never forget the woman in London who was jogging in place to stay warm while waiting for a bus. But she was also unwittingly dancing to the Magic Carpet Ride that was in my ears.