As the sun sinks low in the western sky, the oppressive heat of the day yields to the relative cool of evening. I lace up my running shoes and pop in my earphones. I don’t run enough, I tell myself as I take off down Reedview’s main road. A group of kids, shouting “Malome Thabo! Malome Thabo!” joins me for a block or two before losing interest and going back to their game of marbles. The neighbor’s cattle, coming home from a day of grazing in the bushveld, regard at me with dumb suspicion as I weave between them.
Summer’s rains have filled a grassy depression in the valley, forming a sizable pond. I run around this new feature in the landscape, passing some boys splashing about naked in the shallows. They holler and wave at me. I wave back, hop onto a cattle trail, and head into the bush. Five minutes into my run, I am squarely in the bushveld, Reedview’s grid of wide dirt streets and neatly-swept yards well behind me.
Winter’s harsh yellows and spring’s garish reds have given way to the gentler colors of summer; its rains have brought a wash of green to the acacia woodlands. The grass, growing chest high in places, scratches my skin and obscures the trail. I duck and weave between the acacia trees. Their thorns draw scarlet beads from my shoulders and calves. It centers me and orients me to the moment, this pain. In four months, winter’s fires will lay the veld bare. The network of cow trails will be easier to follow then. For now, I bound headlong through the razor-edged woodland, racing the sun as dusk turns to night.