New Mexico · Outdoors

Lingering

Summer isn’t ready to relinquish its grip on Albuquerque just yet.

 

Occasionally, an autumnal tinge will appear – my pepper plants outside will look a little faded, or I’ll have to slip on gloves before leaving for work in the morning – but these tinges don’t last long. My plants still produce fruit, and those gloves I wear in the morning get firmly stuffed away for the ride home.

 

We may have turned our clocks back, but the warmth of the sun is lingering. And I for one have no problem with that.

 

I went for a hike on Sunday along Trail #365 in Albuquerque’s foothills. I figured there probably wouldn’t be many more weekends amenable to hiking in shorts and a t-shirt, so I wanted to get out and sooooak it up. Not to mention the effect of taking a few days off from running, plus doing loads of housework the day before: I wasn’t quite in cabin fever territory, but my condition was borderline.

 

Apparently, lots of other people had the same idea. The little parking lot by my favorite trailhead was jam-packed, and SUVs adorned with bikes and driven by ruthless-eyed ladies already circled predatorially. I hustled my Corolla out of there and parked in a neighborhood nearby. There’s nothing that odd about a woman clomping along a residential sidewalk in hiking shoes, is there?

 

Once on the trail, the slight annoyance I had felt over some since-forgotten trifle melted away, as usually happens in the foothills. I realized happily, as I tripped over a rock (but didn’t fall, thank you very much!) that this was a pretty great moment. Here it was, November, and the first day of “Standard,” a.k.a. “early darkness,” time, with golden-foliaged trees shimmering, and temperatures were in the 60s! And I was lucky enough to be out amid it all.

 

I didn’t even mind all the mountain bikers that jolted by in blurs, or that I had to stop a couple times to makeshift-shorten the straps on my bag (Shannon’s Trail Rule #4: Always carry more hairbands than you think you’ll need). I let myself walk a little further than I had planned – my excuse being that I was looking for the perfect rock on which to eat my sandwich. On the way back, I loitered, sidling off the trail a few times to send text messages to a friend, something I do not normally do. Usually, my cell phone experiences hikes from a dark pocket in my backpack, where it resides for emergency use only. Ah well. The hike got even more social when I saw my friend Rachel on her bike; we chatted for a few minutes, then went on our separate sunny-skied ways.

 

And finally, one of my favorite parts of the hike? On a whim, I had thrown on my Buffalo Bills t-shirt – it was Game Day, after all – and I met three, count them, THREE other Bills fans. In New Mexico, that is downright weird.

 

I know cold weather lurks right around the corner. But what with my plants still blooming, my windows still flung open, fellow Bills fans cruising around town, and God knows what other surprises out there, I’m happy to let this warmth linger as long as it wants.

 

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