Of Maple Leaves and Gospel Music

Last night my husband and I watched Nick Offerman’s “American Ham” comedy show. Spiking throughout the routine were themes of getting outdoors and appreciating nature, with the lest segments giving a thumbs up to getting intoxicated (after working hard) and the thrill of admiring something so simple as a maple leaf.

This morning I finished the c25k running program and at the end took a photo of a maple leaf, with a nod to Nick Offerman.


The run was fantastic, with something odd happening slightly over the half-way mark, when I was my most tired. I was listening to a Paul Simon album thinking, wow, I should listen to gospel music. This epiphany happened because I was thinking of Dad and figured it might be nice, personally, if I did a tribute run just to him sometime. Maybe on my first 5k race. He was an odd man out when it came to white Christian men growing up poor but eventually making it to the affluent suburbs. He liked to think on the edge of his comfort zone. Like his father, he loved gospel music and preferred attending a black church in Chicago’s inner city over the more sedate white church we regularly went to. He would sing loud at the gospel songs, and I can recall even when Dad had Parkinsons, two years before he died, if he heard an upbeat gospel song, he’d start nodding his head and clicking his fingers.

I was thinking all this when a song called “Gone at Last,” sung by Paul Simon and Phoebe Snow, came on my playlist. It’s like my thoughts had gone out to my dad, somewhere in the lost universe out there, and he came back with this song. Whoa, the great piano and upbeat tempo really got me going. I was no longer tired. My muscles came to life. I was flying! My head was almost buzzing with the euphoria. It was a great experience, one which I think religious people sometimes feel when unexplainable things happen. Only, this was just a coincidence, me thinking of my dad and gospel music, and then that song just appearing out of the blue (I had never heard it before); but it was a beautiful coincidence, just like all of nature, not a great sign from somewhere else but a random miracle of nature just happening because it can. It lifted me up and got me through my run.

In the end I was so tired, more so than usual, but I ran faster and further than I had before. I had finished this running milestone! What a great feeling. I know it’s a continual thing for me, but I was relieved to have completed this program.

I celebrated later with a good glass of wine during lunch with my coworkers. Like Nick Offerman said, intoxication after a workout is great. I look back now and still feel that wondrous energy from the run. I’ll never forget it.

Leave a Comment