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Ozark RDF:


Our truck and car both have cruise control. Our grandkids don’t, and oh, how they run. Sometimes I wish I could push “set” and hold them down to 55. But, I really wouldn’t want to. I don’t really get upset, just jealous. They race everywhere — from the car to the front door, from the front door to the play room, from the kitchen to the dining room, in circles through the house and hitting every room.

They run down the driveway and up to the barn; they run in the store, up the church steps and down the halls at school. It matters not where they’re going, they run. If not a run, it’s a hop, skip or jump — never a quiet one, and never a walk, an amble or a stroll.

I don’t know what their hurry is, but they’re in it everywhere they go.

What if we all ran like kids?

Can you imagine?

Can you even remember when you did?

I don’t mean the kind of running I might do today at the gym or for a few hundred yards down the road. I’m not talking about the calculated exercise we force our aging muscles, joints and bones to endure, neither the miles I jogged when I was 40 something nor the single 10K I ran once when I was thin. Can you remember?

No forethought or calculations encumber the spontaneous sprints, leaps and bounds of kids as they race ‘round my rocking chair. Oh, to have such spring in my legs. Oh to have the resiliency to fall and get right back up — not just stand erect, but bounce like a tennis ball. Oh, the energy these kids display. I don’t know where it comes from, or where mine has gone. I kinda remember it, but it was a long, long time ago — a time when I ran everywhere, too. When a young man on the farm I ran from the house to the barn, hurdled a barbed wire fence, hit the barn door in six more steps and cut my leg only once.

Covering the same distance from the barnlot gate to the house at a dead run, I cleared six steps in a single leap and hit the back porch screen door, and never once slipped or fell. I did this every day, nothing chasing me either way.

I hadn’t thought much about those exuberant sprints until just now — until Katie ran across the living room. I almost warned her to slow down, then remembered I once was a youngster, too.

We once ran everywhere — my brothers and I — bounding around the farm like marbles in a pinball machine. We didn’t run around the cows, though, ‘cause no matter how swift we thought ourselves, we knew Dad would catch us anyhow.

I don’t know when running quit being fun. I can’t say it ever did. I still love to run, but it doesn’t happen as easily now, and my knees are more likely to complain after a day or two. Even my doctor no longer encourages me to run. “Walk,” he says. “Every day.”

Sometimes when I’m walking I still get the urge to break into a lope, and sometimes I do. It’s not the same run, though, as when I was a boy, or even that of 20 years ago. And it’s nothing like the unconscious haste of our grandsons, their sisters and cousins through our house.

Those grandkids — they don’t even give running a thought. I’m envious, not angry in the least, but perhaps a little perplexed. Why the hurry? Why do kids run so often when it’s not far they have to go, or even if they don’t need to go anywhere at all?

Human nature, I guess, or just the nature of youth.

My grandma probably pondered the same mystery when my little feet pounded across her living room linoleum. Where did I think I was going at such a run? Where are my grandkids going now? Wherever it is, they’ve not a second to waste.

RFD “Favorites” are previously published columns selected by author Jim Hamilton while he takes a break from the weekly routine. Read more of his works in “Ozarks RFD 2010-2015,” available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author. Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton.


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