A Peaceful Walk In Heavy Snow

I went for a walk today, the same as almost every day. This time, though, as I grabbed my sweatshirt, put on my shoes, and slipped my coat on overtop, I didn’t pause to check the weather. I needed air. I needed to breath. I needed some space after being cooped up in my apartment for the fourth day in a row. I’ve been sick lately, working from home so I don’t spread this respiratory thing around the office. My head is clear, but my chest aches from the gentle rumble of coughing, muted by cold medicine and cough drops, that never seems to stop so much as briefly pause. I need fresh air now that my stifling apartment is blocked up with plastic so thoroughly that not even a faint puff of air can sneak in to steal away the heat I’ve been so carefully managing to maintain my comfort while sick. So I did not pause to check the forecast or look outside as I ran away from the close confines of my cozy, dim home.

Outside, I paused long enough to lock my door and consider the falling snow. The sidewalk was slick with it, covered in the almost invisible layer of crystalline snow that’s become wet without yet melting. The world around me was filled with the soft patter of dense flakes, frozen rain, and growing slush that the forecast likes to call a “wintery mix” as it coats the ground with a sure-fire recipe for slipping. I was prepared, though. My shoes were new and the treads had not yet begun to wear away, leaving me confident that all I needed was a small amount of care to avoid all but the worst of the slush around me. My coat would resist the weather for long enough to walk my usual path and the wind was low enough that I would not need a scarf or hat. My beard and hair, specially cultivated for the winter, would suffice.

As I, enjoying the muted world around me, made my way down the block in relative isolation, the snow began to shift. Large, wet flakes began to replace the frozen rain and sleet until the world was hazy with them. Quickly, the ground changed to snowy white and the slurry on the sidewalks was covered over in a layer of melt-resistant snow that made it easier to walk, now that there was more purchase than just the cement beneath the slush. My hair and beard began to fill with unmelted snow taking advantage of the same insulation they provided me. It wasn’t long before the snow had piled up enough that it began to tumble down from my head and climb up from my beard, surrounding my vision in white crystals. Even my glasses, resistant until the first bit of melted snow granted the frozen flakes something to hold onto, began to quickly accumulate passengers.

By the time I returned home, I was a damp, snowy mess. My sweatshirt had begun to soak through in the few places it emerged from my jacket. My hair was shower-damp, as if it had never dried off from that morning, and my beard was coated in a thin layer of ice. My coat, having shrugged off the heavy flakes with ease, was fine. It the only exposed part of me that hadn’t grown damp due to the falling snow, but still I hung it near the heater, alongside my sweatshirt, because I felt like it had earned the rest and warmth. I also suspected that my coat was just too cold for me to feel any damp spots and this beloved jacket is too old to take risks with. After that was done, I prepared a cup of tea for myself, toweling off my hair and dabbing at my beard as the last of the snow melted away.

As I warmed myself by my heater and sipped my slowly steeping scalding tea, I reminded myself of everything I had yet to do today. Everything I’d given myself and the things I’d set to the side, to be done if I could muster the time and energy for them or to be left for another day if I could not. I was still sick, after all, so I had made myself room for rest and the calm, busy work of a slower day. None of it seemed easier or more appealing after my walk, but I felt like I had an easier time deciding what I would actually be able to do in a what remained of my day. It felt like I was seeing it through new eyes, even if it was still the same old me who had to do it. A fresh perspective, born of fresh air and snow covered glasses. A clear mind, emptied by the muted patter of heavy snowflakes and the soft, ever-present crunch of snow beneath my feet. Enough to continue for the rest of the day.

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