Ice Cold

Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits.  Welcome to December and its swollen, orange moon that shone in my bedroom window at 5 o’clock this morning, awakening me from a deep sleep.  I wondered who could be shining a flashlight in my face so early, but when I opened my eyes to see, I was caught in a moment of glowing glory such that I had to awaken the hubby to share it.  We ooh-ed and aah-ed over it for maybe two minutes, rolled over, and slipped back into dreamland for another half hour.

At 6:30, I bundled up for the first below 32 degrees run of the season.  My friend Sue had reminded me last week that soon we would be navigating ice pools, and that was indeed the case this morning.  As I wished for my ice skates while running along and dodging the slipperiest looking spots on Eden Road, I happily anticipated the coming winter.  This is only the second time in my life I have looked forward to the season of cold and snow.  Running has turned me into an all-season lover.  Before this passion for pounding the streets, I was a summer girl, barely tolerating spring and fall, but hating winter.  I’m always cold unless it’s 80 degrees outside, and during winter, I have been known to hibernate, hunkered down inside the house under piles of fleece and blankets, getting up only to make hot tea or to get another sweater.  I have crocheted king-sized afghans as gifts for people for selfish reasons.  Yes, just to try to keep warm.  But running makes me feel so good- so powerful and happy- that I now participate in winter.

As I ran this morning, I thought about snowshoeing in Dogtown, as I have done for the past two winters.  I also thought about cross-country skiing, a new sport for me last year.  Both mimic running in a way, and both get my blood moving enough so that I feel warm all the way through.

Dogtown is an abandoned settlement spanning between Gloucester and Rockport. It is beautiful all year, but particularly so in winter.  It’s silent in there, except for the cracking sound of frozen tree branches and the occasional squirrel, coyote, or deer rustling off-trail in the depths of the forest. It is impossible to imagine I am close to either the sea or civilization as I move through the quiet.  I seldom come across another person, but follow tracks made by other winter adventurers as I make my way along the main trails and tiny, rocky goat paths that weave through the acreage there.  My friend Jane, an excellent guide, has taught me the trail-marking system in Dogtown over the past few years so that I am confident about trekking alone.  I carry a rough map of the area, and look for landmark stone formations like Whale’s Jaw and Peter’s Pulpit.

Babson Trail boulder

I veer from the path to search out the Babson Trail boulders, which have wise words and sayings carved into the granite stone to remind me of ideas, ideals, truth, and kindness,  and to use my head.  There is a boardwalk trail lined with mountain laurel and an icy river to cross that challenges  every muscle and clears every thought from my head and I am completely in the moment, exactly where I want to be.

Today I ran up the hill toward home thinking  of deep snow, woods, and solitude.  I thawed out in front of the pellet stove, then went to look for my snow shoes.  I am ready to move through this winter.  I welcome the ice the cold, and the snow.

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