Like many stories, this one began with a pregnancy test. Not mine, but one I saw years ago while running, discarded in a ditch on the side of the road.
For weeks it lay there in the dirt next to an overgrown field. Every time I passed it during a run and noticed it still there, I’d wonder. What was the result? How did the test taker feel? Why did someone throw it out of a moving vehicle? Where are all the characters in this unseen drama now?
Run for enough miles and you’ll see things that give you pause.
A few years ago I started taking photos of some of those pause-worthy sights and sharing them on Instagram as #thingsiseewhenirun. Thus began an ongoing exercise in seeing and noticing.
Often the images are of something I found beautiful, like these apple blossoms in spring:
or impressive, like this ice art I saw underfoot on a snowmobile trail:
Occasionally something makes me laugh, like this sign, which still cracks me up:
Or I’ve stopped to ponder a scene, like these tracks of an unseen fox across a frozen lake:
I don’t plan when to stop. Instead, I try to listen to that flash of feeling, that catch of interest, the jolt that says this is worth my notice; this is worth a little time and attention. I don’t have to know why a sight gives me a moment of pause, but I try not to dismiss or silence that voice. When I do ignore it, it feels like throwing away a momentary gift and can nag at me for miles.
I never took a picture of that pregnancy test (you’re welcome). Eventually, after a winter of snowplows, it disappeared. But I haven’t stopped looking in ditches, like the wintery one below. I keep taking pauses, trying to collect a few of the lovely, amusing, intriguing, and poignant ephemeral moments that we hustle past in daily life, on the run.
You can follow me on Instagram for more things I see, including #thingsiseewhenirun, #thingsiseewheniski, and #thingsiseewhenihike.