Thursday, July 3, 2008

Western Penn and the Joys of Summer

Last night my running buddy and I took of on the riverfront trail 'detour' to the scenic Western Penitentiary. Due to casino construction, the path the connected the riverfront trails has been cut in two making a detour necessary. We headed out from my place and along the official detour route, enjoying some of the Manchester streets and homes that I don't often venture towards. Seeing the neighborhood through a new pair of eyes is refreshing, so often we become accustomed to our surroundings -- turning off to new discoveries so as not to overload our senses.

Catching up with the Ohio River, we continued on through swarms and swarms of gnats, assorted tiny birds, and clumps of purple wildflowers. Approaching the prison, we heard what sounded like tennis balls bouncing against walls and realized the inmates were out in the yard (heavily guarded by barbed wire mind you) for their evening recreation. Western Penitentiary is a desolate place, most of the old prison has fallen into disrepair, though there are some signs of life, a place to fish and folks out on bikes, the oddly comforting sounds of prisoners enjoying time in the fresh air.

We ran back and over past the Aviary, visiting with several of the outdoor birds on the way. Though I'm still feeling the fatigue from a few weeks of travel, I felt strong on the run. Looking forward I'm considering the Ikea Half Marathon in September to get me motivated, it's in early September which gives me plenty of time to rest up before the Stomp the Grapes Half.

I topped off my summer evening by slicing into my first tomato of the season, red and ripe from my farm share, I topped it simply with a drizzle of olive oil, fine sea salt, and a pinch of basil from my window plant. Summer on a plate. And a reminder that sometimes the most simple and basic things are the most satisfying.

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