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Our bearded dragon let me know it's time to power down and settle in
We have a bearded dragon. He — I think he’s a he, anyway, though I could easily be wrong about that — came to live with our family in the summer of ’21, right after my son’s eighth birthday. We had tried crested geckos, but there’s a limit to how much fun you can have playing with a reptile that’s nocturnal, and needs to sleep most of the time you’re awake. (Especially when you’re eight.)
When we first brought him home — we named him Rex, for his much larger and distant tyrannosaur cousins — he ate like a teenage boy. Whatever we put in front of him, he devoured: lettuce, crickets, cucumber slices, kale, and a kind of worm the pet shop calls “super” worms. I made the mistake once of letting my finger linger in front of his mouth for a millisecond too long, and learned just how powerful his little bite can be.
It was probably fitting, considering he was an adolescent himself then. Fast-forward a year, and now he’s a fully-grown adult, though he still eats nearly as much as we put in front of him. Until a week or so ago.
That’s when I noticed that the lettuce I arranged in neat little piles for him was still there the next morning, looking sad and dried out from the night air. So I tried again, putting fresh, wet lettuce in his bowl again, thinking that maybe he wasn’t hungry. But again, the next day, nothing. No sign he’d touched it at all.
My son and I began to worry. No matter how we tried, he just wouldn’t eat. Every morning, he was in the same place and position we’d left him in the night before — usually splayed out on the floor of his tank, eyes closed. We don’t have the best track record when it comes to cold-blooded pets, and I was afraid we’d lost yet another one. Thankfully, my wife did a little googling.
“Have you been feeding him this week?”
No, I told her. I can’t get him to eat anything, actually.
“It sounds like it’s this thing called ‘brumation,’” she said, adding that he’s supposed to do this around this time of year. It’s a little like hibernation, though not exactly the same. The colder temperatures, the declining sunlight and the cloudier, grayer skies all make him sluggish, uninterested in eating, or really doing much of anything.
I got some combination of a cold and laryngitis that lasted through much of the first half of this month, which meant I didn’t get out for many runs at all. I’m feeling fine now, but I have to admit I’m feeling in the mood for a little “brumation” of my own.
I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some well-deserved time to unplug, rest and relax lately, and if you haven’t yet, that you do over the next week or two until the new year. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we’ll run together next year, and it feels like we’re at a kind of inflection point for this newsletter.
Since we moved to Substack in 2018, The Half Marathoner was focused primarily on races, as that was the reason most readers subscribed. But then the pandemic happened, which led us to run a virtual race together, and train following the same schedule, because there were no other races available to run.
I kept that going into this year, as Covid slowly moved more into the background of our lives and, for most of us, life returned to something approaching what it was like in 2019 and before. What I noticed in the fall training, however, was that few of you actually needed the week-by-week plan, as you were following your own training schedules.
What I’m thinking now is that I’ll make the training plans available as a download to paid subscribers, so you’ll receive them when you sign up and can adapt them to your schedule, around your work/family/marriage/significant other/children/parents/other life responsibilities as you need.
Week by week, then, that leaves us free to focus on other things and explore new territory. It’s kinda hard to believe, but we’ve been gathering together here as a group for almost eight years; the first issue went out in early 2015. Can you believe it? It’s kinda crazy, when you think about it. In some ways, I feel like we’re just getting started, as I’m starting to finally feel comfortable writing about a range of topics. I hope you feel the same.
In the meantime, I hope you’re able to settle in with the ones you love and enjoy some great shows, great books you’ve always been wanting to read, or some movies you’ve been wanting to see. I’m hoping to finally finish Lonesome Dove, which I started back in the late summer; and catch up on The Americans. (Yes, I know how behind I am on pop culture!)
What are you planning on doing during the break? Running or otherwise — as always, keep me posted your running/life/etc.