A run in the park

There is no visible line of demarcation, but heading East across Holden Avenue (coming from OBT) there is a threshold that separates two worlds. One moment you’re driving along and the next “BAM!” Suddenly, and without warning, Extended Stay Motels, Kwik-E-Marts, and shuttered buildings give way to manicured lawns, small spoiled dogs, and eventually, Cypress Grove Park. Exuding a southern sensibility that is equal parts charming and cheesy, the park features verdant rolling hills, white picket fences, rose gardens, and a requisite plantation house/wedding gazebo.

I had noticed Cypress Grove before, as I often pass by it on my way to work at Gym Rat Boxing, but its pristine condition had led me to believe that it was actually private property. Not so. A Google search revealed that Cypress Grove is in fact part of the Orange County Park system. Finding myself with some time to kill, and being that I was in close proximity, I decided to exploit this public resource for my private fitness needs.

Last night marked our first official “cold-front”, granting a reprieve from the oppressive heat and humidity called summer, and I thought that it would be nice to go for a brisk jog. After exiting my car I surveyed the landscape. A long looping walking path stretched out as far as my sight would allow and it seemed ideal for my purposes. Avoiding the unforgiving concrete of the path itself, I trotted along the soft grassy shoulders.

The entire property was dotted with mature hardwoods. Oaks and maples stood in solitude, stoically perched atop a knoll, and clustered in hammocks, intertwined canopies casting a deep shade. I half expected the Budweiser Clydesdales to appear, with an old-tymey beer wagon in tow. Alas, they did not, although a decidedly modern water-fountain was available to quench my thirst.

Maintenance workers with lawnmowers and weed-wackers buzzed to and fro leaving a grassy musk in their wake. What would have been cloying only a day before was pleasantly sweet in the crisp autumn air. The intoxicating perfume deepened when I took a quick detour through the rose garden. A darting butterfly interrupted my reverie and I navigated the cobblestone walkway back towards the main path.

After circumnavigating the entirety of the path, I decided for another go-around. This time I veered off towards a playground. An uninhibited adult and several small children had all ready claimed the monkey bars, so I broke from the path and jogged towards the shore of a nearby lake. The name-sake cypress grove appeared before me and I shifted my vision from their majestic trunks to their knobby rootlets and back again so as to avoid turning my ankle on the protrusions.

Deciding that it was time to turn back, I kicked my pace up a notch and headed back towards the parking lot. Shunning the path for the return trip, I sprinted down the hills and across fields with abandon. Weaving between newly planted saplings I stretched my stride against the protests of my lungs and legs. With my car in my sights, I made a final push, vaulting over the white picket fences, and narrowly avoiding an epic spill when my back foot didn’t quite clear the top beam.

Plopping down on my car seat, I fumbled to retrieve an apple from my lunch sack. Hungrily munching on a sweet-tart green apple, I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road. In my rear view mirror the stands of trees, green hills, and picket fences pulled away while up ahead another very different world came into view.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Gorgeous imagery and sense of 'place' - I feel like I am there. I can even see the almost epic spill:) Beautiful writing, again, as always!