Friday Fires, Winter Snow Edition

When I checked out of work for the week at the end of the day today, the sun was still high enough in the sky for it to be considered daylight.

It’s been cold for most of the week, that deep, chilling cold that makes it difficult to do much besides curl up on the couch and watch bad television. We tried taking the dog for a walk mid-week and turned around because between the icy sidewalks and the brutally cold wind it was simply stupid and dangerous to be outside.

So, that it was merely a few degrees below freezing after work and still light out, I decided to light a fire.

I mean, I literally had to shovel the fire pit out of a knee deep snow drift in our backyard, and trudge a path to the firewood at the back of the yard.

It took nearly an hour to warm up the bowl enough that it would burn longer than a few minutes without going out, but after a while I got a nice flame going and was able to sit for a half an hour and sip a drink while I fought off the evening cold with the dim flames.

It felt good.

I mean, there is something grounding about sitting beside a fire after spending the week staring at screens, something that is tough to explain but ultimately results in a bit of respite for one’s mental health and general peace of mind.

I may need to hit up the grocery store for something interesting to cook over a fire this weekend, now that (after all that work shoveling and melting) I’ve primed my pit up properly for winter.

Froze Up

About thirty six hours before I sat down to pen this post the city where I live got hit by a small ice storm.

I mean, technically, the weather service called it “freezing rain” but after an hour of that particular meteorological event (whatever one chooses to call it) every outdoor surface had been covered by a thin, slippery sheen of pebbled ice that sent traffic into chaos, all but shut down the city, and left people like me walking their dogs shuffling along the glassy sidewalks barely able to maintain a vertical posture.

At lunch (when it was a bit brighter and bit warmer, but not any less icy) I took a photo of one of the boulders in a nearby park while I took the dog on yet another shuffling scoot around the same.

It was as if someone had encased the meter-wide stone in a perfectly form-fitting layer of cold transparent glass, sealing the stone into protective, icy case visible from the outside but unexpectedly cold and smooth to the touch.

What is your perspective on the culture of 2021?

For some reason when I sat down this evening to write a response to my daily December question, I thought of this stone covered in ice, locked away in a little bubble of glass-like protection, visible to anyone who walks by but isolated and encased in something that prevents, at least without some kind of force, change or interaction from the outside.

My whole world was covered in a sheet of ice for the last day and a half.

Everywhere I look there is a slippery film that lets me look through and under and into the world beneath. But all I can do is shuffle along and feel the cold, slippery icy that separates me from what I really want to connect with.

Funny, but the whole world — friends, family, people, everything — feels a bit like that these days, too.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

We Interrupt this Training Plan for …

Sunday Runday, and I woke up to a skiff of fresh overnight snow and a minus twenty world out my front door.

Yeah, you read that right: -20C. (Not even mentioning the “feels like” -33C wind chill estimate that accompanied the forecast on my weather app.)

As I was eating my breakfast, one of my running partners (who is a government meteorologist) texted me at 7am with the (I assume) professional advice of “stay warm, I will not be out this morning…”

And then I did the thing I’ve done too often this past year and a half…

What do you wish you’d done
less of this past year?

… I tried to get out of my run.

Sure, it was the coldest day of the season to-date, and sure, I’ve been feeling a little lazy since slowly nursing a sore heel back to health.

But the last twenty-one months has been full of countless excuses to curl up in a ball on the couch and ignore the realities of life, the universe and everything. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly that? Sometimes multiple times per day.

This morning as I looked at the outside temperature, as stuck my barefoot out the back door, as I let the dog out at quarter past six in the biting cold, I immediately started thinking of additional excuses to stay home in my pajamas and curl up on the couch with a coffee and Netflix … y’know, instead of doing a training run.

I didn’t stay home.

I wanted to bail.

But the text message thread the followed left me feeling guilty that one of my other partners had already left his house and was en route to our meeting place. I complied. I layered up in my warmest gear, dug a fuzzy buff and an extra pair of wooly mittens from the cupboard, and made my way in my truck (switching on the 4×4 for the treacherous roads) over to the nearby parking lot from where we usually leave. Nine klicks later of slogging through the cold and snow and wind. The sun was barely cracking the horizon and as it lifted over the frosty treeline just to the side of the path a beautiful winter sunrise cracked a bit of the cold and offered a hint of apricity against the brutal, biting freeze. A cold run. A run at the limit of my cold threshold. Weather that literally hurts. We ran for nearly an hour with frost clinging to our lashes and ice crusting on the brims of our toques.

I wanted to bail, bail like I’ve done a few too many times this past span of time, but this time I did not. I ran. I froze. I kept running. And ultimately I returned to the warmth of a hot cup of coffee and some good conversation. But I wanted to bail nonetheless.

In 2021 I wish I’d done a little less of that wanting to skip the things that used to be the highlights of my everydays, runs, and adventuring, and getting out and about. I know there have been great excuses, often even mandates and strict rules enforcing those same reasons, but I wish I’d had less opportunity to slip into whatever pattern it has created for me and left me thinking first of a reason not to do something than the former excitement that launched me off that couch and into the world.

I don’t know for sure how to do that less, but I think it’s worth aspiring to.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Sn’oh Canada

Well, it was inevitable.

This morning there was a few skiffs of snow around the city, but for the most part I could have still raked the autumn leaves dawdling in my backyard.

By this evening, a generous blanket had covered the park and streets.

I guess it really is time to dig out the winter running gear.