A short story about an early moring run in Perigine Valdarno, Italy while on vacation
|Often I have escaped to the woods to clear my mind, speak to god or simply just hike a trail that I have not yet encountered. But I have occasionally encountered moments that take hold of me, some call it déjà vu or the feeling I have been at a place far from my home before. I had gone on vacation with my wife to Italy…
I felt the cold air on my toes and opened one eye slowly expecting my head to begin pounding as I vaguely remembered having polished off a few bottles of wine with my beautiful Jessica the evening before. Wonderfully I was surprised and confused when I awoke feeling very refreshed; the waiters had told us that we would not have headaches because of the lack of sulfates in Tuscan Chianti, but we had just assume that they we’re trying to sell more wine to the boisterous Americana’s.
I was nonetheless awake without any hope of falling back to sleep, which seemed to be a reoccurring theme since we had gotten over the jet lag in Rome. Every morning I was up around 8:00 a.m. and didn’t dare to wake the angel sleeping next to me, so I put on my running shorts, shoes, a t-shirt and headed out of our Tuscan Villa up the Mountain road leading out of Pergine Valdarno.
It was mid March and still quite chilly in the mornings in central Italy, but perfect for running after about a mile or so I had reached the bottom of the mountain and begun the switch backs and my body had warmed up quite well as I began to feel the affect of the quick change in altitude. As I crested the small mountain, the road ran beside a surreal meadow that drew away from the road to a chateau that over looked the valley below. Just then a stag jumped from the olive orchard on my right the breath from his nostrils condensing in the air. He gave out a grunt and his muscles flinched as he slid to a stop, obviously just as shocked to see me as I was to see him.
It was then as we stood there waiting for one another to move, at that moment I was consumed with the feeling I was in a familiar wood. Not as if I knew where I was exactly, but I noticed that something was out of place.A moment later the stag figured out I was not a threat and he followed the grunt with a guttural whine and three other russet stags with magnificent crowns of horns followed him across the meadow into the woods behind the estate. I followed the road around a curve and turned on a trail up to the mountain behind the villa to the ruins of an ancient abandoned church that I somehow knew would be right at this spot.
As I came through the doorway, the eerie feeling that you would normally get when creeping into an old abandoned building was quickly quelled by an uncanny feeling of familiarity. I walked the familiar halls and took the stairs to the top floor over to a window where I watched the sun rise magnificently over the valley. After a moment I gazed back into the room as though Jess was supposed to be there sleeping in bed there, not four miles back in the town barley visible in the distance.