Back in March, when everything closed, people took up walking because there was nothing else to do. Walking suddenly became popular. “You see?” all us obsessive walkers said. This summer I was logging in five miles a day, and a friend wondered what would happen to my five miles when the winter came. I’ll keep on walking as usual, I said, probably not five miles, but certainly every day.
The fact of the matter is that winter is the best time to walk. If you know a New York summer, you know the humidity can be brutal. The bugs are equally distressing. And as the climate changes, the summers get worse. The first winter I walked every day, I spent many days peering out the window and grimacing at the steely gray clouds and the frigid brown landscape. But I dressed well and forced myself outside, like a good mother. And here is what I found: I never regretted a walk.
When it was freezing, the walk would warm me up. When it was raining, I noticed that the drops that gathered on the black birch saplings looked like translucent beads. When it was snowing a palpable hush fell on the trail. When the sun came out, the birds rejoiced and flitted about in the leafless thickets. At the very worst, when I walked in the house, the feeling of being enveloped by my personal space was like a bear hug.
Right now, shutdowns are looming. Those little arrows we watch every day are pointing up. The maps are all red. Uncertainty abounds. Walking for me aligns me in the present moment, which is a calm place where there is no disaster. I know the sky looks dismal, and the barren trees conjure thoughts of lack, but once you are out and moving, there is a reconnection to the web of life that doesn’t seem possible when you first peek out the window.
So, don’t stop walking even though the skies are telling you it’s cold or inhospitable. It’s just how it seems, and you have to realize it’s not how it is. Bundle up in your best coat, wrap yourself well with a scarf, make sure your shoes are warm and cozy. Once you are outside for a bit, you’ll warm up and have to take your gloves off. You won’t notice the cold anymore, as you wonder at the world around you.
Last year’s sugaring season did not go well for me, and I have already used the small amount of maple syrup I made. I like having a fully stocked pantry before the winter, and the pandemic makes it even more important. Thankfully, nearby Corey’s Sugar Shack helped me out. So glad to have a gallon of maple syrup at the ready! Is your pantry stocked?