Town runs are not my favorite. I make sure I’ve prepared the night before with music or a podcast downloaded to enjoy and distract me, this way I can block out the noise and busyness, and not feel so conspicuous. My thoughts can freely drift in and out between my own inner dialogue and what I’m listening to at the time.
Never the less today was a good run. I felt energetic and fluid and the podcast was interesting. The first section of my route was quite busy. There were lots of cars and pedestrians. I made my way along the sidewalk totally lost in my own head.
As I ran past the post office and turned into Ann street, I side stepped a small group of House Sparrows busy gorging themselves happily on the bits of food they had found on the pavement. They paid no attention to me but hopped around busily, pecking at their tasty find.
I got home an hour later and that simple image, which had really just been a few seconds, a flash, for some reason stuck in my mind. Not just the image, the feeling it evoked too; joy.
These ordinary, normally overlooked little birds, scurrying around happily. The colorful autumn leaves from the Plane trees scattered on the ground around them and at my feet. The smokey plumes exhaled from my breath in the chilly morning air. That simple moment frozen in a vivid cameo to be stored away in my memory.
House Sparrows were introduced from Europe and Asia to Durban in the late eighteen hundreds. They spread rapidly from one settlement to the next, along roads and railways. They are now found everywhere and classified as invasive birds in South Africa. This is quite ironic as in the UK they are on the red list of endangered species and have almost disappeared! Michael Mccartney writes extensively about this in his beautiful book ‘The moth snow storm’.
I’ll end with a quote from his book. “There can be occasions when we suddenly and involuntarily find ourselves loving the natural world with a startling intensity, in a burst of emotion which we may not fully understand, and the only word that seems to me appropriate for this feeling is joy.”