Back in February, I wrote the following post, intending to return to my blog after a long graduate-school induced hiatus. I thought it was pretty good, but also, I love the sheer delusion that emerges here, as I sat in my house counting down days till Spring:
In The Bleak Midwinter
Here in Michigan, the first day of February is bringing us 10-14 inches of snow, and I have been snuggling up inside our house, baking cherry oatmeal muffins and simmering a pot of lemony carrot-cauliflower soup on the stove, reveling in the fact that the stars have aligned to bring me both snow and a serendipitous, if short lived, afternoon free from reading all the things that graduate school requires. My thoughts turned to this blog, long forsaken and ill-attended; today, finally, I am sitting and writing, watching snow fall, listening to soup bubble. And watching my pug take laps around the coffee table.
Usually, this time of year makes me crave summer rambles in the woods, and fall road races. Normally, I am riding the fine line between the winter blues and full-blown seasonal affective disorder, waiting for a trip to somewhere sunny to get me through the jokes-on-you Spring that we call March and April. But today, I’m so happy to see snow. Maybe I’m just getting used to Michigan, at long last. Maybe I now understand that things could be worse, that it could be -40 without the windchill, and that I could be walking around MSU’s vast campus, playing fast and loose with frostbite risk. Maybe, God forbid, I am starting to like winter, but you have to be careful with statements like that here. Weather juju is real, and it is vindictive.
At the heart of this unexpected (and probably ill-considered) happiness towards winter is the post-snow run. Dan and I moved to Chelsea, MI over the summer, a quiet tiny town outside of Ann Arbor. Our streets have that perfect silence after snow that only exists in small towns where no one needs to go out, because there isn’t much to do anyway. You run on the streets, after the plow shuffles by, because the sidewalks are still covered and that’s ok. Trees frosted thickly with snow drop funnels of flakes off their branches as you run past, drifting in wind. The town smells like clean laundry, fresh from the dryer, and cold. Your footfalls deaden in the stillness. Once in awhile, a cranky black squirrel cackles at you from his tree house, or a neighborhood dog joins you for a block or two, but otherwise, its just you and your legs, running up and over the train tracks. If you’re smart, you’re wearing something like yak-tracks, or maybe even trail running shoes, but if you’re like me and you run in your super-snazzy but poorly tread Nikes, you’ll feel like you’re running on a sandy beach. You may get lost in the daydream of sun and surf for a moment, remembering the run on the Mexican beach from two spring breaks ago, the last time you felt the ground shift under your feet. You were barefoot then, clad in shorts, and jumped in the ocean after your three miles. Rum drinks and guacamole ensued. It’s a post-traumatic reverie, to be sure; last winter taught you about the sheer power of cold. Bone-cracking, heart-stopping, fear-inducing cold. Tomorrow, after the snow ends, you may feel the cold snap you again, threatening to freeze your pipes, kill your car battery, make your run end before it begins. But today, you run silently, quickly, through snow banks, reaching home just as your lungs begin to ache from cold air, and you feel a part of winter.
It’s Spring now, friends, and I’m no longer (sickly) celebrating the promise of heavy snowfall. This summer, I’m reading for my comps exams, training for a marathon to benefit Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan, returning to Pictured Rocks, and doing quite a bit of traveling. Join me on my travels, and join the conversation.
It’s light till 9pm. It’s balmy, if drizzly. Our bodies are making vitamin D again. It’s time to get back out there, on foot.