This is the first winter in many years I haven’t spent working out in a gym, for the obvious reasons, and other than not having that reason to warm my car up in the morning, I’ve been surprised to find I don’t really miss it.
The curtain dropped on public involvement around mid-March of last year and so the grip of winter at that point had loosened considerably. Instead of riding the bike to nowhere or climbing the stairway to the moon, I walked.
My town has great walking possibilities—Crescent Beach State Park, Kettle Cove, Fort Williams—but I don’t always want to fire up the vehicle to go someplace to walk (feels a little like putting my bike in the car to go somewhere to ride), so I’ve developed a bunch of walking loops that take me through my neighborhood.
Other than the ease of it, I’ve noticed many more small things and many more ways in which each day in the movement of the seasons brings something new. For example, if you aren’t walking outside right now (admittedly, in single degree temps), you’re maybe not aware that bird life is starting to kick up, that songs and movement in the brush are probably at their highest level since last fall.
The other obvious benefit is the requirement to slow down. Even as fit as I am (heh), I can only walk so fast on frost-heaved roads and icy verges, which has forced me to throttle back my desire to get a walk done and enjoy where I am. And see.
See the profusion of cardinals that resides in our local copses, the snow coats drifting off of frozen twigs in the breeze, the pile of old ski gear someone left leaned against an old car last fall, now buried in snow. Where’s the story that explains that? Or the massive stack of lobster traps that hasn’t moved in a year?
I know the places in the roads where the melt accumulates, then freezes at night. I know which stand of trees I can duck into for a discreet pee. I know how the dark water of Trout Brook looks as it flows under the ice.
I’ve connected with a few more locals, too, the early dog-walkers and hand-wavers, the same people on their way to work at the same time every morning.
It’s brought a different sense to my writing, this slowing down. I find, with extra time, I’m less focused on getting my daily quota done, more focused on teasing out better sentences, weighing the worth of my words. It’s an open question whether that helps the books eventually, but there’s always hope. As there is for the spring.