Betty Blue Sky


Just in the door from a run in the park. It was one of those evenings. Staring out of the office window, hoping a client would call so I could wrap up some business and get out there. The sun had set before I could grab my shoes and get on the road. I threw on the head torch as I knew I would be plunging into the woods at some point and it was going to be dark in there.

First loop out takes you up the Black Avenue. The beech-lined road brings you past the waste water treatment plant (where’s Morrissey when you need a good lyric?) and then a right turn over the Liffey and into the tunnel of trees and then out along the river bank with its old oaks and open parkland. Then the weir and the graffiti wall before retracing your steps. The last of the evening light is catching the tops of the beech on the far bank, and the river is low; fallen leaves have gathered along the waterline and create a soft, golden drift.

Back over the bridge and then right along the fence towards the big old beech; royalty without a crown, having lost some of its grandeur through storms and judicious pruning. A mountain biker passes me out and makes it into the woods ahead of me, and I follow on to be swallowed whole by the gloom. The head torch is on but the light is not great; must change those batteries. In fairness, they made it around Killarney back in August, so they owe me nothing. I haven’t changed them in a year, come to think of it…

Along by the weir and I can see the light of the biker flashing in amongst the wooded trails. Not for me. Open paths under the canopy before a sharp left and up the hill. These paths play tricks on you in the dark, and especially in Autumn when the beech leaves rustle as you pass, and you can hear ghostly steps behind you, following your every move.

The watch beeps to remind me we are still civilised here, and to point out gently that the pace has dropped from a reasonable 5.40ish to just over 6 minutes per kilometre. This always happens at this point of the run. That little hill is the devil’s work.

Across the other path heading out of the park, and on by the BMX track and the ranger’s station. Here the parkland is open again, and I knock off the torch. A train screams past heading west towards the very last of the evening light, and over Leixlip there is a Betty Blue sky. Of course, in the original classic film, the drama begins le matin, and that sky was always getting brighter. Well, I guess for the protagonist, things didn’t get brighter, but let’s not spoil a classic French film.

The dark blue and that strip of almost gold makes the run worthwhile. Trees and goal posts. Silhouettes and sentries. I puff past. My watch beeps. I follow the path around and it leads me home. I make it back, and the last of the light has vanished.

The watch says 10.01 k in 55:47.6 at 5.34 pace but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I ran. As I type this at my desk, I hear a train rattle down the line, and the classic horn toots for good measure. It’s easily a kilometre away from my house but the sound trips down the Sileachain valley and flows through the open window as if the platform was across the road. The subtle differences that a still Autumn evening can make.

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In other news, my daughter made this little gizmo. It’s a simple device that creates holograms from your smartphone. Go on. Give it a Google!

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