I opened the screen door to head out with all the enthusiasm I could muster. The needle on the big thermometer on my neighbor Marge’s deck hovered at zero degrees. The noise from the door interrupted the wool-gathering of this chunky squirrel who had positioned himself on the corner of the deck, anticipating handouts from his biggest benefactor, Marge.
I suspect that this squirrel will be leery of getting too close to the door wall since there is a dog now living in the house, albeit a pooch that is a Chihuahua mix, and who is not much larger than the squirrel with his added poundage. I am sure Woody will prove to be a terror with the backyard critters once the warmer temps get here.
The squirrel surreptitiously glanced around him, then at me, seemingly annoyed by the noise I had made, then once again returned his gaze to the door wall. He was soon rewarded for his efforts when a bare hand tossed out a handful of peanuts. Those nuts landed noiselessly on the deck floor since we had a light covering of snow last night. Well, belying that cumbersome body, the squirrel scrambled down and grabbed a peanut, then began chomping furiously lest the blue jay with his long and deadly beak should suddenly swoop down to grab up some goodies.
I watched that interaction while I steeled myself for the whoosh of cold air when I opened the screen door … it was another bitter cold morning here in Southeast Michigan. Brrrrrrr.
Today’s walk, albeit a short one, would be more than merely brisk – it would be frigid. There was too much snow to navigate in walking shoes, so I resigned myself to wearing my lug boots. I feel like an old horse clompin’ along in them, but they prevent slipping and sliding, so I put them on.
Like yesterday, the street was silent, even though it was later in the morning. The neighbors were sleeping, with no set agenda and whipped from that first, five-day work week and the wicked weather. That first long week after two shortened holiday weeks is a bear, isn’t it? After the moderate December weather and the arrival of the “real Winter” many of us are wishing we could make like a bear and hibernate for the 68 days ‘til Spring’s arrival.
I walked around the block and headed over to Memorial Park for a short jaunt around the memorial pavilion. I saw a few birds high up in the trees, looking hopeful, and I instantly felt remorse for not bringing anything along for them … “tomorrow” I promised.
I plodded through the snow, making deep footprints with my boots and destroying the pure white canvas that covered the grass and cement. There was plenty of soft powdery snow – perfect to make snow angels. I made plenty of them when I was a kid, much to the chagrin of my mom who would then have to deal with all my wet outerwear when I came in. “Must you?” she’d ask.
As I think back, I wondered … surely, I would not have plopped down onto my back, and made snow angels in the horribly cold weather … or would I have? Were we just oblivious to the cold back then? I can remember using my kid-sized shovel to create blocks to build snow forts and then hanging out in them with my friends for hours on end. This was in Canada, where I grew up, so perhaps we young Canucks were made of stronger stuff back in those days.
Well, those reflections on my youth were running through my head, just about the time that I realized my feet already felt numb and I’d only been out for fifteen minutes tops. Having succumbed to Mother Nature’s brutal temps, I started wending my way back home to run the car and get into the house where it was warm.
Once I thawed out, I headed over to the exercise bike, having decided that today would be the day to resurrect the bike-riding regimen that I so abruptly abandoned last Winter. I dusted it off and greased up the flywheel and oiled the chain, buoyed by the feeling that the bike ride could work off some energy, and burn up the calories, that the petite promenade did not.
I climbed aboard and pedaled … slowly at first, then vigorously. But five minutes into that venture, the heat came on. The heat in my house is set to 77 right now due to the extreme cold and the little nipper who lives here, who, unlike me, cannot sip a cup of coffee, don a cardigan or wrap himself in an afghan to keep cozy. He has just feathers to keep his warm, so the house is kept toasty for Buddy.
Whew … I thought that heat would never go off. I resumed pedaling. In between the furnace blasting out the heat bigtime, I got three miles of pedaling in. I won’t win any marathons for this effort, but it is a start. I’ve got to keep those legs strong to keep on walking.