Special to The Washington Post
By Remar Sutton
Little Apple Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands—This is true, though you are not going to believe it: a little chicken has fallen out of the sky, right here in the BVI. In fact, three little chickens have fallen from the sky.
Although this incident may not be as startling as the renowned occasion when the sky itself, according to some sources, fell on a chicken named "Little," the Tortola incident might indeed portend trouble down here. (This is already proving true). To make things worse, I should have sensed the incident was coming, but ignored the obvious signals.
Here are the facts: I struck out on an exhilarating nine-mile walk along Tortola's magnificent North Shore Road. The first signal came as I strolled by Sappys By The Sea in peaceful Carrot Bay. Without warning, a normally docile and friendly village donkey freed itself from its tether and thundered down the narrow road right at me, hee-hawing, kicking and bucking. Everybody down here knows donkeys can "sense" things. I chose to disregard that, and hiked on.
Two miles later, midway up Ridge Road, the second strange incident occurred. If I had turned right at the fork in the road and taken the less-traveled path to Sage Mountain National Park, my hike would have continued healthily and without incident, I am sure. But some odd force made me turn left and head down the mountain into fabled Cane Garden Bay. This bay is well-known as the setting for Jimmy Buffett's tune "Cheeseburger in Paradise," a melody which forced itself so hypnotically on me that I soon found myself seated at a small seaside café in the bay eating French fries and a wonderfully greasy cheeseburger with bacon, no less. The time was 8 a.m.
The most troubling incident happened three miles later, as I headed down the nearly vertical switchback overlooking the Isabella Morris Primary School. Thankfully, my jaunty green and white golf umbrella was open to protect me from the tropical sun. With the speed of a lightning bolt, three little chickens no bigger than my palm bounced off the umbrella, hit the ground and then waddled away without once having the courtesy to look back and see if I was okay.
Skeptics out there may say there is an innocent explanation to this. "Oh, they accidentally tumbled from the sheer, pebble-covered embankment just above Remar's head rather than falling from the sky," they may claim. But how can one be sure?
The entire morning unnerved me so much that I decided to take a reading break. A mistake. As I flipped through a Janet Burroway work, this sentence leapt out at me: "...Some disasters accumulate...they don't all land like a child out of an apple tree."
Or like a chicken from the sky.
A light went off in my head. From the donkey to the hamburger to the chickens, this was all about preventing disasters in our health. I nearly used the donkey as an excuse not to exercise. The hamburger? The clear lesson that we—not Jimmy Buffett—control our own eating habits. The chickens? They didn't look back at me because they knew a more health-conscious guy might take them home for lunch.
See the logic? Most of the time major problems in our health don't just fall from the sky. They are accumulated disasters. Years of eating wrong just a little bit. A week without exercise, and then it's a year. The slope of our mortality is indeed very gentle.
Well, I had to share all this with you right away, and give you one piece of bright news: Even if you are far down the slope, you can still go up the mountains with us, right here in Tortola, starting December 3. Read the rest of this carefully:
You have ten weeks to get ready for The Walk of Tortola. Even if you have trouble making it from one end of your couch to the other, ten weeks is enough time for you to make it three miles with us on the walk. You will walk far enough to meet the bucking donkey and see the very spot at which little chickens fell from the sky. And you can play and boat with us all you want.
If you started training with us months ago and quit, that's okay. Start up again right now. You're not the only person who gave up. Go to our web site, click on "journals," and you'll be comforted by the failures of virtually all of our Tortola training stars.
Fall is in the air, a blustery winter is approaching the Beltway, and a walk on a tropical island is in your near future. I can't guarantee any falling chickens, though.