I run regularly along the linear park, which is more or less adjacent to the River Torrens. Tonight’s run inspired this piece.

I lace on my shoes, strap on my GPS watch and head out the door towards the river. The heat from the afternoon has dissipated somewhat, but it’s still warm. I ease into my run with a brisk walk, signaling to my legs and lungs that effort will soon be required.

It’s about one kilometre to the river. I run past renovated cottages, their English gardens awash with silver-purple lavender, and McMansions sterile with their manicured lawns and pencil pine topiaries. I find the lack of eaves in the latter alarming, and wonder – again – about the difficulties of keeping these houses cool in summer. Dogs, mostly Labradors and Alsatians, threaten me as I run past their prison gates.

I turn off the main road onto the path that leads to the river. I feel an immediate drop in the temperature of the air – at least two or three degrees. It’s quiet, apart from the squawk of parrots and cockatoos flying low from tree to tree. My feet thump along the bitumen, beating out their own rhythm, mostly in time with my breathing. I’ve been a regular runner for four years now, and my breathing is easy and effortless, even on hills and steeper gradients.

The air is still, scented with the warm spiciness of pine trees and the peppermint-menthol of gums. Ducks paddle along the river, ducklings following obediently along behind. The river trips over itself in places, as large rocks and boulders encourage waterfalling. Algae blooms a lime green in pools of still water, protected by reeds and willow.

I pass pedestrians walking their dogs and parents walking their children. Cyclists pass me, zipping close, silent assassins. I yell at them where appropriate: ‘Dude! Use your bell!’. And occasionally one will yell something unintelligible back, words flung over his shoulder at me like arrows. Not tonight, though. I’ve missed the commuters cycling home from work.

I run my six kilometres – a short one – and not for the first time, thank God for my location. And I wonder – as I often do – why anyone would choose the mindless, automation of a treadmill over the rich sensory experience that is running outdoors?

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