Ok, people, I’ve arrived at that place where many of you have been for weeks, if not months – I’m done with winter. As I look out my sliding glass window at the still light at 7:15 pm sky, I want to feel enticed to venture outdoors, to take a walk or run. Instead, I’m cozied up on the couch trying to decide which comes first – a hot shower or a quick nap. This does not make me happy.
Last month when it was barely 12 degrees for my son’s sledding party, I didn’t complain. During my winter break a few weeks back, there were a couple of days when it was literally too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes. I accepted it. On the first full day of spring when Mother Nature spit snow from the sky, I responded by simply changing from my Frye boots into a pair of Doc’s. No big deal.
But, today? When I went outside and felt the bone-chilling wind cut through my three layers of clothing? As I reached, again, for a hat and gloves and warmed up my car prior to going to work? I felt pissed. I’m tired of my winter wardrobe, sick of socks and wearing leggings under my jeans. I’m ready for bare legs, crisp cotton sheets and open windows, aren’t you?
It’s time, Jack Frost. You need to go.
If you’re an outdoors exerciser, you’ll probably agree that we’ve arrived at shoulder season – or, as I like to call it, ass season. As in, falling on your ass if you’re not cautious because it’s so damn icy. We’re somewhere between skiing and running/cycling season and each day brings the question of which activity will be best attempted in conditions that seem to vary daily.
The golf course has deteriorated into an icy landscape, complete with bare spots and piles of dog poop. I skied it Friday and it was treacherous. After walking it on Saturday, I reluctantly concluded that ski season was over. I consoled myself with my first run in weeks – 5 slow, wet and slick miles. My quads are screaming today, so I guess I guess we can call this shoulder, ass and quads season to be accurate.
This morning, there was an unexpected (to me) period of snow. Fluffy flakes quickly accumulated and frosted the icy snow changing my prospects for the day. A ski it would be.
Work last night, an obscenely early soccer game (7:30), and the time change had combined to kick my ass, confirming the appropriateness of my naming the season after the gluteal region. After a nap between fresh flannel sheets, I felt prepared to attempt the golf course, hoping that the trails would be improved. It proved to be beyond my expectations.
The sun had softened the snow’s crust and the newly fallen flakes had filled in the worst of the divots. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the ski was sublime. Although I am generally conscious of being present in the moment, I focused even harder on experiencing this ski, imagining it as being my last of the winter.
The interior trails, particularly the Coca-Cola, were beautiful and easily negotiated. Jeter and I explored a new path or two and when we completed our long loop it seemed we both felt pleasantly fatigued. Regardless of which part of my body feels sore, that soulful place inside me feels satisfied. Time for a glass of wine.
Tuesday was a long day in my neighborhood. I first got the news in the early morning – a water main had burst and the police, but not yet the water department, were on hand. I considered getting up and running some water in my bath tub, but since I’m on vacation, I rolled over and went back to sleep.
When I finally did get out of bed, my water flowed like normal from the pipes and I immediately forgot my earlier plan to store some water in the tub. I made coffee, gave Jeter fresh water and even mopped with no apparent end in sight to my water supply. Until I wanted to wash my hands a short time later and instead of water, I got spitting air from the faucet. My hands immediately felt filthy.
The neighbors started checking in via text and calls – one had been mid-shower when her water dried up, others had immediately assumed that the problem was more localized, perhaps even limited to their own homes in the form of burst pipes. Fortunately, we shared the limited information we had since the city wasn’t exactly forthcoming. It was after 10:00 before we received some official information when a water department employee canvassed the neighborhood and informed us that we would be without water until approximately 4:30 in the afternoon. Great.
Surprisingly, I had water for a brief moment midmorning and was able to get 8″ of dirty water in my tub for toilet flushing. It’s the little things, right? When the water still wasn’t on (without benefit of any updates from the water department) by 5:15, I abandoned hopes of roasting a chicken and ordered Chinese* instead. Naturally, while I was in the parking lot I received a text that the water was flowing again.
I arrived home with a Chinese feast for the boys and the promise of a hot bath for me. I had a renewed appreciation for running water along with the hope that our city’s infrastructure might be shown some love and attention in the city budget.It wasn’t a tremendous inconvenience for us to be without water for 12 hours, but I worry that other residents might really be challenged when basic services fail.
*Ocean Palace does such a great job – and such nice people!
Don’t even approach my body unless you’ve first been between my ears. I’m 48, not 18.
True love isn’t roses and chocolate. It’s starting my car on a winter’s morning or bringing home pizza on a Friday night.
Love is buying me the Sunday paper on Saturday so I don’t have to go outside on a cold morning.
Love means being able to continue to believe.
My run Sunday came at a price – more specifically, the knee of my oldest running tights and a little skin on both my palm and my knee. Jeter and I had gotten a later start at the golf course than I had hoped, and by the time we completed the back nine and were midway through the front nine, it was fairly dark. Or maybe unfairly dark when it came to that patch of ice which did not reveal itself until my foot landed on it. Oops.
As my foot led, my body went up in the air, ultimately smacking to the ground on hip, hand and knee. Ouch. It hurt. I like to think that overall, I didn’t go down as terribly as I might have. I mean, I was a gymnast years ago and there’s muscle memory when it comes to falling, isn’t there? On the cold ground I did a quick inventory and, comfortable with my self-assessment, I got back up. Because that is what you do, isn’t it?
Once I regained my feet, I continued on the path with my thoughts shifting from where they had been previously. Before my slip, I had been reflecting about how much I loved exercising outdoors, year round. Even when I lose my footing and completely wipe out, fresh air still trumps the stale air and static view of a gym.
Now I thought back to when my children were toddlers and young boys and the frequency with which they seemed to fall down. It was remarkable. The slightest discrepancy in flooring, the tiniest drops of moisture, a tree root or dip in the earth would end with the same result – child on the ground. It was almost predictable in its capriciousness.
As we age, we don’t expect to end up on the ground, do we? Indulgence and illness aside, we remain consistently on our feet. Falling down is a part of life, though. Maybe the occasional reminder of that truth is something we all need.
- You don’t have an hour to talk and listen
- You don’t see the moon part the clouds in greeting
- You don’t feel your body transition from cold and tight to warm and loose
- You don’t have the benefit of your besties’ wisdom and advice
- You don’t devote your attention to where you’re going on a sometimes icy path
- You don’t get to take a steamy, hot post-run shower with the best minty soap ever.
- You don’t get to high-five, after 5, and admire one another for being so badass as to run under a full moon in frigid temperatures.
It’s times like this that make me understand the appeal of going to the theater to see a movie. Or three. I don’t often get to the movies for a film that is anything other than rated PG, but during my winter holidays, I found my way to the Spectrum three times for grown up movies.Two of the movies I saw were based upon books which I had very much enjoyed, while the third appealed to my curiosity and is the one which I’ve found myself reflecting on with surprising frequency. All provided an opportunity to escape.
Escape from what, you ask? Christmas and the stress which it can bring, the reality of who is present in my life and who is not, and a grief that I found I could not run away from no matter how rapidly I moved my sneakered feet. The holidays are a cruel time for death to visit.
So, I went to the movies. First, my middle son and I took in Birdman (and a medium popcorn) together. The plot was interesting without being groundbreaking and I thought the cast was outstanding. Michael Keaton was utterly convincing in the title role and Edward Norton was his standard mesmerizing self. Emma Stone continues to be difficult to look away from and I only wish Naomi Watts had been in more scenes. Overall, I found the film a bit disturbing, but that’s just coming from literal me. I like movies that neatly tie up in the end, and this definitely did not do that.
Christmas Day I made my way back down Delaware Avenue for a matinee of Unbroken. I’ve been waiting to see this movie since I read the book 3 years ago and, while I think the adaptation was respectfully done, the film simply could not live up to the printed page. There just isn’t any way to capture the richness of Hillenbrand’s book and Louis Zamperini’s life in 120+ minutes. By all means, see the movie but do not think it tells the complete story. Read the book.
I completed my trifecta with another film based on a biography, Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. I just recently read and loved the book and think the movie accurately portrayed the journey that Cheryl Strayed took in the aftermath of the demise of her mother and her marriage. There are always creative choices to be made and I think the scenes taken from the book and depicted on screen were wisely made. I liked it, but, you should still read the book if you haven’t already.
Hooray for Hollywood and thank God for books and running.