The mornings here in Illinois keep breaking cold and clear. 12 degrees one day. 18 degrees the next. Then perhaps one day in the 20s.
Last year by this time spring had broken in grotesque glory. A string of 80 degree days brought all the fruit trees into bloom. Too early, in some cases, for bees or other pollinating insects to reach them. There would be no fruit as a result.
Running and riding in that early season heat was weird. The body is not acclimated that quickly to such intense heat. We neared 90 one afternoon and that meant slowing to nearly a walk to complete the run.
Rides were not much different. You’d go blasting along the first 10 miles and then start to feel sluggish. Hot. Hills got doubly hard. Both water bottles were gone before you returned.
The trends tell us otherwise. The climate is warming all over the world, and people argue on Facebook if they’re conservative types that global warming is a political hoax, while liberals wring their hands as they wring their bandannas, complaining that we’re ruining the earth.
Frozen paws and frozen pause
My dog didn’t think much of this morning’s 12 degree weather. His paws started to freeze. When that happens he stops, lifts the cold paw and stands there stunned, as if to ask: “Why does walking hurt?”
I scoop him up, walk a ways while holding his paw to thaw it out and make sure to put him back down on roadway that doesn’t have salt or snow on it. This morning there was both. And that hurts.
My personal running extremes are -23 below, when my eyelids froze shut, and 106 degrees fahrenheit, when it was also stupid to run.
This March has just required patience, a frozen pause. But it made me think of a poem I wrote some 20 years ago about March weather. Every runner and rider can relate.
This old piano I’m caressing
notes the rise of night outside,
scores of black key clouds depressing
tones that measure those that died.
Play the March wind for our fathers
music you long practice earned,
sworn or tamed by absent mothers
March is melancholy, spurned.
Claw across the sharp horizon
silhouette these blanket fields,
stand erect as evening’s fallen
see the truth March wind reveals.
Waterfowl on icy rivers
animals on highway sides,
God returns your helpless letters
God deliberates, decides.
God is spreading aimless waters
gathering where the soil is tilled,
play the March wind there forever
March is what the winter willed.