I run around Tempe Town Lake a couple times a week with an early morning gaggle of friends. We muddle through a 4.2 mile loop that includes bridges, dirt paths, canals, horses, the occasional rooster and even the odd coyote. (And once a man I thought was a moose. Long story.) It is in the center of Tempe — my little city of a million or so.
Last week, one of the rubber sections of the dam broke, sending much of the water into a dry lake bed beyond and leaving me unexpectedly emotional. I’ve swam in the lake for sport — including the 1/2 Ironman — and fallen in love with the charm of this monumentally-out-of-place body of water. Surrounded by desert, the lake and its well-worn running paths, have become friends. More than once, when I wanted no one else to see me upset, I laced up my sneaks for a teary jog. The magic of the exercise and the time with urban nature always worked its serendipitous ways.
When the dam popped, it was big news city-wide. Our group happened to be running the next morning, which we did with a handful of reporters gathered at the parking lot where we meet. We’ve watched the water recede considerably in the last few days and ogled the odd pieces of furniture and metal jutting from from the drying soil. The fish were captured by game and fish and donated to the local herpetological society for alligator food. The entire thing has been, well, a bust.
But it did give me good reason to grab Matty and head to the lake for a long walk after work with my camera. I think we safely captured both the charm of the park and the sadness of its temporary dry spell.
Remind me never to wish to come back to the next life as a city fish.
P.S. Update to this story — apparently it’s spurred contests over which type of swimmer tastes better. Oy.