“Don’t talk to me now, I’m molting”

– Andrew Bird, Inside Problems

I spent six weeks without running. As a self-proclaimed “Runner”, and writer of daily running poems, this time off, forced by a minor foot injury, represented a shift in identity. If a runner doesn’t run, are they still a “runner”? Can I write “runhaiku” without running any steps? How do I connect with friends without the main thing we would do together? Oh the questions.

In most sports I’ve participated in, there’s a welcome off-season. In contrast, running has become such an embedded part of my daily rhythm, I find it a difficult habit to break.

I tried to welcome this off-season, even though it was unplanned. So I walked the dog. I biked indoors. All ways to try to burn all the energy usually directed towards the daily run.

And I thought about the trees…

In winter we lose our names

In winter we lose our names
along with the trees
known in summer by their fruit
in the winter nameless tangles of twigs
anonymous, we wait
for those old names
to be swallowed up
to feed our patient roots
our future flowering
with the coming spring

I’ve been listening to Andrew Bird’s Inside Problems on repeat lately. The song (part of the album by the same name), talks about shedding, molting, transformation. Not as a shameful thing, but as part of a natural and beautiful process. Much like trees have a season of shedding, maybe a time to set down our dearly-held identities, the names and titles on our business cards, is a good and necessary part of growth, or at least part of a sustainable cycle.

All your teenage plumage
Has fallen to the forest floor

– Andrew Bird, Inside Problems

As we welcome the slow settling of winter, maybe we can also follow the trees’ lead, dropping our leaves, resting in the earth’s slow patience, a sustaining force we trust will bring us back to life when the time is right.


Does the winter tree
— twisted tangle
of nervous twigs,
leaves long left to fall
on the cold ground —
remember its strong trunk
roots reaching year by year
deeper into the soil
feeling the steady breath
the earth beneath its feet?