Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quiet Accumulation

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Hanging wipers, lifted off the windshields in the midst of the storm to make clean off easier...

Yesterday I drove to work in a mild snowstorm. Several inches accumulated on the roads into the morning, and that was on top of the several inches that had fallen the day before. The roads were a bit more treacherous than normal, but thankfully my commute is against the grain of traffic, and when you have three lanes to yourself, it is not quite as scary to have less-than-ideal visibility.

After all, the snow cover I was craving had arrived.

On Sunday morning I woke with time to spare, thanks to daylight savings. Anxious to fit several tasks in before church, I scheduled my morning carefully: work for my online class, breakfast, further work, run, shower, tidy the house, head out. By the time 8:45 rolled around, I was ready for a break from my research and writing, but one look outside surprised me: it had snowed--a lot. Several inches had accumulated while I slept, and what previously looked like a mild case of winter was now progressing very nicely. I debated whether I was still up for the challenge, and decided that even a small run would be better than none--especially since I had already set aside the time for it.

Curtis and I live near a busy intersection, not far off of one of the major roads in town. Thus, it came as a shock to exit the neighborhood to find quiet--the fresh blanket of snow absorbing what little sound was being made by the sparse Sunday morning travellers. I headed around the corner to discover that there was no sidewalk trail to be found this quiet morning, just inches of untouched powder, waiting for someone to blaze a trail on what is typically a well-travelled route. With piano music quietly echoing in my ears, I plowed through: knees rising a bit higher than usual, ankles eventually aching from the unsteadiness of every step, breath heavy with the extra resistance every step offered. It was quiet, and challenging, and perfect.

Forty minutes later I found myself finishing my run ten minutes behind schedule. Despite the nagging notion that breaking trail would cause the "short" loop to be a bit longer, I couldn't bring myself to cut the run off. Some other task would have to wait until later, because this was an enchanting moment that only comes around once or twice a year. As the lavender sky brightened with daylight and the snow clouds melted further away, the neighborhood came to life as well--snow-blowers spitting snow off driveways and onto long ago lawns, wheels spinning as vehicles tried to negotiate inches of loose powder, vehicles sputtering down the road after an extra hour of sleep. By the time I made it home, the last stretch of sidewalk was already plowed and life was back to normal.

Later that afternoon, Curtis texted me from work to let me know that my run through the snow had officially made me his hero. Granted I felt like that was generous, but I was pretty proud of myself for actually getting out the door when I knew the run would be challenging. There are days when I look at the conditions and never bother to get out my running shoes.

Then there are days like today, when I take my mom's dog and venture out in temperatures that are heading down toward single digits, content to watch the clear sky glow as the sun sets, the pitter-patter of the dogs feet the perfect accompaniment to the sound of my rhythmic breathing.

The weather report calls for more snow this week, and if I have my way I'll be out on my skis some time this weekend. But until the next quiet, snowy adventure comes around, I'll let my still-sore muscles remind me of the time a busy thoroughfare turned into a quiet, snow wilderness, conscious of the powerful force that nature always is, even though I don't always notice.

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