Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ice Walk

Finally getting up the courage to walk in the snow, I suit up, leaving behind the comfort of a squashy couch and radiant heat of a warm fire and stepping out into the elements. It’s refreshing, but painful. The cold immediately invades my body, stealing my breath, lancing my eyes, squirming under my hat into my ears, and shocking the tips of my fingers. A gust of wind picks up speed across the field and blows itself at me, hardening the flesh on my face.

Stalwart, unwavering, I put one sluggish foot before another and begin slogging in that monotonous rhythm of crunching and creaking boots on snow. Step after step breaks through the icy crust and compacts the fluffy layers beneath, and it’s the only sound I can hear from under my wooly earflaps. As I pass under trees, the warmth of the sun ebbs and flows, sometimes thawing my face for a moment before another wind hurries to attach icicles to my nose.

I don’t stop until my thighs start burning, then it’s time to take a seat on a convenient bench. I can hear birdsong now, curious tweets and chirrups relaying gossip from tree to tree in a dozen languages. The only other sound in this snow-muffled world is the dry rattle of leaves making escape attempts in the branches overhead. I can’t even smell the cedar trees or the scent of earth. It’s like a sheet has been thrown over the world, muffling every sense save the sense of cold. My fingers still hurt, but my face is losing feeling at this point. Amazing how cold is such a relief in July, when we heap glasses high with ice and lemonade, and run through the sprinkler in bikinis. In mid-February it’s a punishment. I dig my fingernails into the icy sheet of snow that covers the bench and take a taste. The shock is enough to send my tongue reeling, I send the stuff flying as far as I can throw it. Half an hour later, my tongue still feels chilled and lumpy inside my mouth.

And that’s enough fun for me. Banging off my boots at the door, I head straight for the squashy couch and curl up in the softest blanket I own. Nothing makes you appreciate warmth more than a winter walk.

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