Arctic Chill


Today started at zero, and maybe we’re at ten degrees by noon. The wind has picked up, too. On these arctic days, I wait until afternoon to walk. It’s all about the layers. A balaclava is essential–it is an amazing winter gear must.

The sky is a luminous but hard pale winter blue. The snow is iced over and sparkles dangerously in the sunlight. The wind is bitter but mercifully occasional. Little puffed up sparrow dart through the thickets. I love looking through the tangled lines of the thickets; chaotic lines upon lines against the white of the snow. And then looking up at the sun through a pine’s branches–the light fractures through the needles magnificently.

In this kind of cold, the walk is just movement, and–similar to my outlook on the summer’s heat–in the beginning of a walk, I am merely there to get in and out. Log the miles. I trudge up the steep incline slowly, but by the top I am warmed and can take off the balaclava, my head probably steaming in the stark winter light. I look for the squirrel who lives in a dead pine here and is often running around, but it’s not here. I hope the squirrel is deep in the middle of the pine, nestled in leaves and pine duff. I head home to my own hollowed out pine tree, feeling better for the brisk cold.

Notes: The deep winter chill is certainly here, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! We’ve been waking up to negative temperatures, and the next week is more of the same. Even on the very coldest days, I am still outside walking. Maybe not as much as I’d like, but walking is so deeply ingrained in my routine now that I can’t not walk. I know I am always better for it.