Morning begins early with a long run (and a little walking), through the grass and wetlands surrounding the Institute. I go with Katherine and Ann. Ann is the real runner; Katherine and I are just tagging along. The trails wind us through the marsh, and past the lake. We can see the cars on the highway just beyond, but even the noise of the big trucks does not drown out the honks of the geese and the big bullfrogs beside us. We cross a long footbridge across the marsh and have to watch our feet and walk delicately around the gigantic piles of goose droppings which cover the first two-thirds of the bridge. The last third is completely clear, as if the geese have an agreement with each other not to dirty up that part of the bridge.
Our route winds us around past the university athletic fields, which stand big and empty, waiting for a game, or some players. It’s off season, and the soccer field is so overgrown that it takes us a minute to recognize it. A stand of bleachers rises out of the ground in the middle of the field, as if inviting spectators to watch the grass grow. Inexplicably, I think of the game that Harry Potter and the other wizards play at Hogwarts, but I can’t think of the name (Quidditch, I remember now), so I don’t mention it to my running partners.
The path past the sports fields leads us back to the main campus, but we’re not quite done yet, so we circle behind the main quad and down the path to another footbridge. It’s fun to run across this bridge – we’re in a good rhythm now and there’s no goose poop – but I forget to stop and look at the sunlight on the water, which is always so beautiful in the mornings. When we get back to the Institute, we stop to catch our breath and look at the map to retrace our route. “Did you run?” someone asks, heading in to breakfast. We nod, and she says, “Good for you!” and we feel inordinately pleased with ourselves.