Sunday, January 6, 2013

When you don't want to walk around the block in winter

This afternoon it's twenty one degrees in my neck of the the Iowa woods. There are still piles of snow left from our epic blizzard right before Christmas. Recent above freezing temps have formed ski slope-looking paths through the front bushes. As I think about how my waistband is experiencing post holiday tension, I think how badly I need to get out for a walk.

I am a fair weather walker which means when it's winter, I don't walk much outside. I force myself into my black bubble coat and pull on my gloves. I pull my red knitted scarf out of the basket and my college daughter laments, again, that the scarf is mine and not hers. I grab my black, fuzzy ear muffs out of the van. I'm not excited. I'm forcing myself on this walk in this twenty one degree winter-ness because of how I feel in my jeans and because of how I know I'll feel afterwards.

Lots of reasons to not walk cross my mind as I'm putting my second arm through the sleeve. It will probably be boring. I'll have to walk alone. I'll get cold. I might slip on an ice patch. I put on my coat anyway.

I discover that the sidewalk is mostly clear of ice and snow thanks to the excellent shoveling and snow blowing of my husband and neighbors. This is a good sign.

A few steps down and I see a snowman as tall as me in a neighbor's yard. He has crooked sticks for arms, but if he had a face, it has since fallen somewhere in the snow below his invisible feet.

I have to duck under a tree branch hanging over the sidewalk next. I notice big buds on the branch. Really? In January? New signs of spring in January. A gift.

Half way around the block and my fingers are getting cold through my gloves that are mostly warm enough for driving. I shove my hands in my pockets. I walk past the house where a couple, now divorced, used to live when they were active in our small group. They've been gone about seven years, but every time I walk past that house, it is their house and they still live there. Together.

Another snowman right before I turn another corner getting closer to home. This guy still has a face made of charcoal briquettes, and a real carrot. His head dons a Cubs ball cap and a dated pink chiffon scarf hangs loosely at his neck. I think to myself that this snowman is more loved than the first one without a face.

I turn the last corner towards home. I think it hasn't been so bad after all, this winter walk where two snowmen greet me. And, a budding branch appears before my freezing nose. I take the two steps up into the house and vow that I will take more winter trips around my block with eyes to see.

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