A Winter Walk

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If you’ve been here for a while, you know my feelings towards winter.  Actually, I guess it isn’t winter so much as the cold that gets to me.  Well, the cold and the dark and the lack of color and so on.  If you pinned me to a wall, I will admit there are times when winter can be beautiful.  There is something about standing outside on a cold, sunny day when it takes your breath away.  But only if you can quickly run back inside to warm up.  Of course, having dogs means that I have no choice but to venture outside on most weekends.

I do love the outdoors.  It always amazes me how much different the same walk can feel on different days even when the temperature is about the same.  It depends on the wind, whether it is sunny or cloudy and something about the air.  Sometimes, even in the dead of winter, there can be just the slightest hint of spring in the air.  A breeze from the right direction can work wonders.  Other days, the wind is cold and biting and the goal is to get out of it as soon as possible.

I love walking right at sunrise.  Yes, I’m an early bird but there is something about sunrise.  I guess it is the potential that it represents.  The day is just beginning and you can dream about how it might unfold.  Even when I know that most of the day will be spent doing the errands that life demands, there is always the possibility of some unexpected small pleasure.  There is just something about being outside as the world wakes up that I enjoy.  The trees are all empty and dark but when the sun hits them, I can imagine the life that waits within ready to burst out when winter finally ends.

At times, I try to channel my dogs.  Even though it is the same stretch of park that they have been to many times, each trip seems like a new experience to them.  They go out in the yard all the time and yet a trip to the park gets them so excited.  I get too wrapped up sometimes in thinking about all that I have to do that day that I can just forget to enjoy the walk like they are.

The woods are ever changing.  There are cycles that occur if you pay enough attention. I use the little signs to get me through the winter.  There are flights of geese that weren’t there a week ago.  I know they live here all year but the movement is new and a change.  I’ve seen bluebirds on the walk the last two days.  Again, they, like the robins, aren’t a reliable indicator since some of them try to tough it out and overwinter to have the first choice of prime nesting spots in the spring.  But, they weren’t there before so it is a change and a welcome sight to see something so bright blue against the dark blacks and greys of the trees.

Today, there were deer.  They are a common sight this time of year as they have to range for food.  Despite their size, they can blend in very well and there are times that I only notice them when they run away from us with the tails up in the alarm pose.  Of course, if the dogs see them first, then I definitely know they are there because it drives Rocco crazy.  Another fun things about dogs. I think they must be incurable optimists.  Rocco is relatively big but he’s slow and has absolutely no chance of catching a deer even if I gave him the opportunity.  Still, he seems to think he can if only I’d let him off the leash.

Some days, the woods are full of birds and sometimes they are empty.  Walking in winter is always better when accompanied by the singing of multiple birds.  I sometimes wonder why it was that birds were given the gift of song but it can lift my spirits to hear it.  I have multiple feeders set up around my house because I enjoy watching and listening to the birds.  There are signs there as well.  The goldfinches become brighter yellow as spring approaches.  Cardinals will pair up and instead of seeing several at my feeders, I will see the one pair lucky enough to have claimed our yard as their territory.  Those come later but will be things I’m looking for.

We have been spared this year due to the El Nino.  If there was an El Nino fan club, I would be the first in line.  December has come and gone with no significant snow and temperatures above average.  The temperatures promise to be more seasonable this week and I know that we are actually entering the coldest stretch of the year so I hope that El Nino holds on.  Perhaps we will catch a break after the last two winters which were especially cold and snowy.

Today has been sunny and so I will probably take the dogs out again later this afternoon.  They do love those bonus walks and it will give me more time to be outside.  I wish I was more like a solar battery and could soak up the sunshine for those days when it is cloudy and cold but I can’t so I must enjoy it while I can.

This is how I survive winter.  Day by day.  Enjoy the good days when they happen.  Always looking for the signs and signals that indicate the worst is over.  Oh, and I start thinking about the vacation we’ve booked at the end of February!  Sunshine, sand and warmth.  Can’t wait.


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