We live in a winter city and I figure if we residents are not just going to up and embrace the snow… well… we may as well move. Pack up now. Sell our meager belongings and relinquish our winter-dweller badges of honor as we slink off to more tropical climes.
This is not out of the ordinary, of course, but it is wrapped neatly within a span of time each year where snow is not necessarily inevitable. It’s optional. Or, it seems like it should be. It has that feeling of looming spring, as if the clouds could part at any moment revealing a warm March sun that melts away the frozen slush of winter and leaves a fresh hint of green in its wake.
It rarely does that. But again, it seems like it should be that way.
And yet the running training continues.
This winter city awoke this morning to one more fresh blanket of the white stuff, and the weather and the streets and the crisp air hanging with a gruff frost were all indifferent to the fact that my crew and I had a sixteen kilometer slog on our docket for half-nine in the morning, now encumbered.
Running in the snow is a beast.
Running in the snow, some will equate, is like running in sand. I’ve never really run in sand, not run-run in sand. I’ve walked in sand. But never run. Run-run. As in, never purposefully and with intention run. Not that way. I’ve trod in many-a-variety of sand on beaches and in near-deserts, coarse seaside sand and silky beach sand on a tropical island. I’ve plodded through dunes. I’ve hiked through the wet-muddy kind of sand that slurps at your feet. But, no. I’ve never run in sand.
Near twenty of us ran in snow this morning. And it was a beast.
Running in snow may be like running in sand, I don’t really know. But I am nearly certain that no matter the sampling of sand one is polling, it will ne’er be quite as cold as running in a fresh blanket of white, crisp, powdery snow, snow that has drifted through the sub-zero chill of a March winter freeze and swirled in haphazard gusts until it settles itself into an unmarked remarkably unremarkable surface of contrast-less white, layered evenly across uneven ground. For this is the kind of snow that does not seem to hold any kind of weight, in itself or as surface. Feet slip into it and through it, stirring it as though the slightest gust could whisk it into a newly reformed flurry of particular particulates and as if a brownian slurry trail in the frozen air behind as if a wake. This is the kind of snow that slips between the toes and gnaws at the grips of the shoes. This is the kind of snow that casts illusions of doubt upon nearly every step, daring to blur-if-not-hide the texture of the usually-trusted terrain.
It is a place I go and a thing I choose to do, that is all.
We run. We just run.
We run and occasionally it takes us from the standard paths of asphalt and concrete and into an adventure of sorts that draws us into the unusual worlds of the very fabric of this winter city.
None of us were quite ready to pack up and move this morning. We ran. We dashed through snow that had been all but undisturbed, fresh and still falling, virgin footprints on a fresh white blanket both cold and crystalline.
If it seems poetic then perhaps that is what it truly was.
There is a truth to be found in the slurry of frozen whisps of blowing ice, snow, snow and more snow blinding each of us in ways both literal and figurative, lost in a frozen city and stepping through individual moments of achievement as another drift swept by in a blur underfoot. There is a truth in moment and the purpose and also the self. There is a truth to be embraced within the winter freeze and swirled in haphazard gusts, and maybe packed under those layers of polymer fibres, too.
Or maybe we just run.