Jogging at Lake Merritt

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A feathered creature glides across a white-pillowed sky, flapping its wings as though to maintain pace with the whisking winds. Its ivory body nearly blends into the backdrop, but its smoky tail soars in opposition. Attracted by a clear lagoon, it lands. The seagull plops its webbed feet unto the waters of Lake Merritt, as its eyes meet the stares of geese. Unbothered by the others, it paddles.

Western gulls share Lake Merritt with other birds including Canada geese and mallard ducks. Humans and dogs pass through during their morning walks and runs. The lagoon’s perimeter is surrounded by New Zealand tea tree and sunflower-like grindelia. Cars zip by, traffic lights change colors and trees sway in the breeze. The geese begin to call out.

Just steps away, the squawking of geese meets the tip-tap of paws hitting pavement. A four-legged friend chugs along to keep up with his owner’s wide strides. Mouth agape, his rosy tongue peeks through his teeth. He pants as steadily as he struts along a path he didn’t choose. His midnight eyes hang slightly open. They sit atop of two creases that resemble those his owner would have after a late night or long cry. The sound of birds chirping kisses his ears. Unbothered, he trots along.

Tall buildings—both commercial and residential—appear in the dog’s trajectory. Piedmont and the Oakland hills peep through the buildings. A woman jogs past the dog and his owner.

Tap-tap, tap-tap. One woman’s tennis shoes pound the sidewalk as she attends to her daily run. She moves at a constant speed, keeping controlled breaths. She tunes out the sounds of the dog panting and the geese calling and lets the music playing in her headphones take her where she wants to go. Cars speed past, screeching at red lights and zooming off once the lights turn green. Unbothered, she runs.

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