photos were taken on my Iphone 6+ during runs in Summer 2015
For the past four years I’ve run regularly at White Rock Lake, a man-made lake in East Dallas that covers some 1200 acres and is approximately 9.73 miles round. The goal of the runs is to simply endure distance. At my worst, every mile is a struggle. At my best, I fall into a hypnotic state where my stride rhymes and I entrust my movement to the meandering path as I revolve around the shore. The first mile is usually the hardest and is accompanied by regret regarding the nutritional quality of recent meals. Soon enough, though, thoughts settle into a realm of nothingness, and I try to focus on the ever-shifting quality of light , the way it wraps around the clouds and how, minute by minute, the hue of the sky shifts from a brilliant cerulean blue into a deep dark cobalt.
After rough storms the paved trail becomes littered with washed up dirt, fallen branches, and trash. Generally a week is needed for clean up crews to do their magic. The work is done in two waves. Men in neon vests collect the mess into massive piles that sit like sculptures until fleets of construction machines arrive to scoop the sculptures into dumpster trucks. After these efforts the area becomes eerily clean and the accumulation process begins again.
The lake is many places to many people. A woman sits on a bench taking in the last light , amongst the ducks and birds, with a blank gaze fixated on the point across the water where the sun says goodbye. At dusk a hired-man comes to spread a twenty pound sack of corn feed across the ground. The ducks and birds honk and flap excitedly toward the foreshore for dinner. Children explode with laughter after stomping their feet, causing the birds to burst off the ground up into the trees as a barrage of cyclists, in skintight corporate logo-laden suits, zoom by shouting “ON YOUR LEFT!” with an arrogance I can only describe as remarkable. Along Garland road, the path gets uncomfortably close to the roadway. A shrine of flowers rests behind the iron fencing, in honor of a man who was killed by a car in May 2014. There was a period when every Sunday eve I’d run past loved ones of the dead, actively mourning. They do not come as frequently now. Fishermen stand guard behind their staked poles, eyes fixated on the tension of the lines, waiting for the big one.
A red band of light lingers on the horizon line and darkness does its dirty work, rendering the land unrecognizable from the hour prior. It’s then I know I ought to get back to the car. When it gets too dark I stick to the far right side of the path and make sure to keep my phone awake, so that I’m seen. I know this place more than most places, although I must confess: I’ve never touched the water.