Thursday, February 3, 2011

Walking in the elements

It was a bitterly cold walk to and from choir practice last night. The temperature had dropped to 8 degrees below Fahrenheit. A slight breeze fiercely bit at exposed skin. I walked swiftly over the course of the mile, with resolve, as one who didn’t want his stiff body to be found in a snow bank the following morning. My shoulders hunched with the rapid rigid gait, like someone in need of lubrication. Both hands firmly were clenched in the wool liners of leather choppers, slender fingers seeking warmth by pulling together tightly.

This was an intentional walk in the harsh elements. I had resolved to drive less this year, and have since been rediscovering the joy of walking. Paradoxically, it was comforting to feel the pain of the cold air stinging my cheeks and eyes. It reminded me of my connection with nature, putting me in touch with the elements. It was good to get out of my comfort zone. I felt alive.

When the wind was at my back vapor from my breath filled my headlamp’s halogen circle of light which illumined my path. The flow of my breath shown brightly, in stark contract to the bitter, dark, dry cold of the night.

Snow waves
With each step came the loud crunch of snow beneath my feet. The normally quite snow was complaining about my footsteps that forced it to the pavement below. I empathized with its discomfort.

Nearing home a black and white police squad car passed me slowly. I wondered if the patrol person was going to stop and question me, much like the unmanned police car in Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian”. The car turned around where the street dead ended and cruised by me once more, thankfully without stopping. I was pleased to know I wasn’t a suspect simply for being a pedestrian outside in the cold and dark of night. Even though walking is still much less common than driving, it doesn’t yet warrant being taken in by the police to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.

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