A perfect morning. As still as a train in an abandoned station. So I stretch next to the pond flexing my back high into the air like an awakening cat. I feel like a ballerina looking forward to a dance. Beech leaves falling helplessly from their branches into the cold water. Confetti fluttering down onto a flawlessly crafted mirror.
I finish stretching and look up at the sky. As blue as a China plate. The sun carelessly splashing its golden rays over the ploughed up sunflower fields as it creeps up from behind the valley of Les Grandes Moulins. I hit the track and memories of running to Morda a long time ago along the ice-filled streams of Wales flood back.
After the descent down to the hamlet of Le Petit Crochet, I jump the stream, check my speed for a moment and start ascending the other side of the valley, glancing up at the tall oaks still loaded with their cornflake coloured leaves.
I draw in long deep breaths, filling my lungs with the truffle scented air. Holding it in and then exhaling, ignoring the burning in my legs, as I continue the climb to Prèau. There I take a sharp left onto the road that takes me down to Le Crochet, not Petit anymore. As I cross the stream for a second time, I pick up the speed and hit the short crucifying hill that winds through the hamlet like a rollercoaster car thundering down a switchback.
At the top I’m panting like the hunting dogs, which will soon be chasing the terrified boars from the nearby woods into the barrels of their masters’ guns. I descend gently, taking my time before The Bitch of a Hill that leads back up to the house. And breakfast.
‘Deep breaths, Oggers,’ I say to myself as I approach it. ‘Focus on the ground, use your mind, control the ascent, don’t look up, it’s easy!
Back at the house I sit at the end of the pond’s jetty, exhausted, and look at my time on my watch. It’s a good one. Another entry for my famous running book that I’ve kept since arriving in France. A log of all my grand victories in Lyon, around the Tete D’Or and the cruel ascent of Fourvière. A priceless souvenir of my time there.
The sun is up high now, the beech leaves looking like large orange beetles sunbathing on the surface of an oily swimming pool. I’ll skim them off later to put on the compost ready for the spring. Then I’ll cut some wood for the fire. Fix the saw and mend the fence. But all in good time. First some breakfast: mackerel, merguez sausage and coffee. Just like a ballerina.