Accidentally Running in Winter

The bright sun beckoned me. It ricocheted off the mounds of snow, lighting up the view outside my window. “Come,” it said. I returned to my cup of tea and thick novel. The light outside the window brightened even more as I rose to put my teacup in the sink a few minutes later. “Come outside. Delight in my winter rays,” the sun called again.

I put on my exercise clothes. I grabbed an old pair of sunglasses before bundling up to go outdoors. The air was crisp. I set off walking, feeling the itch to move at a faster pace, but many neighbors had not maintained their walkways. I soon arrived at the corner with the traffic light. I had not taken this path on foot since last November. On the other side of the four lane traffic, the noise stilled.  Trees now looked naked and lonely without their fiery autumn leaves. Two small, unattended dogs ran toward me, barking, excited, protective. I wanted to run away from their leaping and yapping, but the sidewalk looked dangerous. This was the route I used to run on before the weather turned bad. I walked as briskly as I could, heading toward the park. Could it be possible the path was safe?

As I got closer, I saw a strip of sidewalk, freshly salted, snow melted. It was wide open. I pushed off with my right foot, then followed with my left, my legs higher off the ground, stretched out, lengthening. I zipped my hood up all the way to my mouth and breathed in the warm air I exhaled. Happiness endorphins swirled around my body.

The park loomed in the distance. I turned into the gate, noticing the snow-covered  path. I accelerated slowly, testing my footing and the compact and even ground. I settled into a slow pace, faster than a walk, but not my regular pace. The snow crunched underfoot. My jacket made swishing sounds. The park was quiet except for a few sounds of pets and people and birds.  I was warm enough and I was running. Running in winter. My legs carried me around the big circle as I passed by barely discernible park benches, their backs peeking out from the snow. I didn’t have to squint as I propelled myself through the path. Families were sledding down a small hill. I started to go through my schedule for the rest of the day but stopped. I was running. It was my time.

I saw the gate. I paused, knowing I didn’t have time to make one more lap. I would have though. I unzipped the vents in my coat and slowed to a walk. Cars whizzed by me as I walked back home, their loudness abrasive to my former tranquil state. While taking off my shoes I wondered when the sun would come calling me again.