Hot and humid.
Hot and humid and COVID.
So much so, that folks are divided on whether to wear masks or not, and what the actual distance of six feet looks like: whether distance is different in an enclosed space versus an open space, whether the current air filtration system is adequate to dispel the exhalations (the coronavirus soup), whether six feet is buffer enough when one is active, whether adding a drink or two to the mix makes for exponential risk…
We don’t really know if an absence of prevention is an indication of caught it and recovered, or denial, or symptoms of being an arrogant covidiot. As for me, I keep my own distance on the trails, my head turned away and my breath held when passing, and a mask and gloves snapped on when I shop. And I’m reconsidering those garden parties and picnic lunches.
So, because it’s been hot, and because my car was damaged in a recent-smash-and-grab (which rewarded the thieves with a half-empty water bottle, a soft plastic cooler, and a couple of bucks worth of cooling elements—HA!!), I’ve been staying closer to home, hiking with small groups within my tiny social bubble, or walking the neighborhood and its attached nature preserves.
And because it’s been sweltering, I’m stopping for a moment to remember winter last January, with fondness. We had many days of great snow and fast, but not icy, trails. The coronavirus had not officially hit our state, so any illness we had was assumed to be the expected nasty winter cold or flu, thus treated as normal: stay home under blankets, in hot baths, with comforting food and drink and naps as needed, or, for many Minnesotans, carry on as usual with your job, your cares, your children, and your social activities to stave off the darkness.
On the day pictured here, I’d cross-country-skied a local park. It’s a short distance—less than 3 miles around the lake and down the side-trials. Most of the lake was frozen over, but the creek connecting bog to the larger lake was open water, as it is year-round. Swans honked disgruntled warning at the lake’s mouth, tolerating pictures if taken from a distance. The ducks in the canal gave side-eye and paddled up creek to where snow-shrouded bushes provided shelter. No discernible sun behind skies clogged with the possibility of more snow, but what had already fallen was so fresh and untouched that the day couldn’t have been any brighter.
Or perhaps it was my mood. The slide of skis on paths familiar to both hiking boot and ski, puffs of snow gently exploding off ski tips, taking it in turns on the glide, icy wind transforming to cooling breeze, freezing my sweat-stained curls, jacket unzipped from thermal shirt, welcoming the diamond bedazzlement of whatever magic shakes off the trees when no other skier is around, and dark water flows between a township of snow.
And this memory and photo of last January reminds me that, heat and humidity notwithstanding, COVID creeping, people crowding the familiar trails, with proper precautions, I can find solace and healing by strapping on the right equipment, and find my center again.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)
Carrot Ranch Saddle Up Saloon (07/05/2020): Yep, folks, do tell. Where do you walk? What inspires the walk? What does the walk inspire? What’s yer walk about?”