November 27, 2013

Winter warmth

I still have a couple weeks of comp time built up from the tax season(s), so I made a three day work week into a two day work week. Extra time to be thankful I say. I pushed the alarm clock to 8:00am, and was frustrated to wake up at 7:00. It didn't seem like I was going to be able to fall back asleep, but somehow five minutes later the alarm went off. Success!

During the three years down in San Diego, I transitioned to running primarily in the mornings to avoid the heat. Back in Washington, and with a job that started at an earlier hour, I shifted back to running in the evenings. With the shorter daylight hours lately though, it has been difficult to get out. I am not training for anything specific these days, but I want to keep moving to avoid digging too deep a hole to climb out of in the spring, and also to counteract the holiday stuffing. Without a race on the horizon, it is much easier to skip a run, but I laced up my shoes this morning and headed out.

I ran my normal path along the Sammamish trail. The proximity to the trail was definitely a factor when I was apartment shopping, and it is really a blessing to have miles and miles of traffic-free roads to run. Though it was a weekday morning, I expected more people on the path, extending the holiday week as I had. The path has never been this empty, so it was mostly just me and the wildlife. Before I even reached the trail, a crow flew across my path, a full piece of wheat bread in its beak. It alighted on a concrete pillar, probably just out of my reach, but it eyed me suspiciously as I passed. I told him, "nice score" as he waited to tuck into breakfast. Seagulls circled, birds chirped, squirrels darted, and I ran.

There is something different in winter sunlight. It illuminates things in a more focused way, exposing different colors and shadowy textures. I suppose it is mostly the lower angle of the sun, but I think it is also the contrast of bright sunlight against a cold day. The fall colors on the hillsides come alive as if they were aflame, and spaces under concrete overpasses seem luminescent rather than shaded in darkness. If light could play across the steam of your breath hitting the cold air, it would put to shame the twinkling lights of Christmas.

It has been cold lately. Of course it is only "Seattle cold" and not "Minnesota cold", but it was still in the 20s for several nights. Another bonus for my apartment choice was an underground parking space. Not that my truck needs the protection, but it was a designated spot I knew would always be empty. I briefly thought about the winter benefits, but they didn't stick in the brain when I moved in July. Driving down the hill past all the iced over cars this past week made me extra thankful to not have to scrape windows every morning. The disadvantage of the apartment is that is on a hillside, however, and I am not sure if I will be able to make it out when it gets truly icy and snowy.

I came home late last night, looking forward to the extended Thanksgiving weekend. As I rounded the corner halfway up the hill, I saw the manager's office decorated and lit up in Christmas lights. The Christmas creep into Thanksgiving and even Halloween bugs me, but rather rail against it coming too early, I just enjoyed the light in the cold darkness.

Tomorrow officially begins the holiday season. My wish is that we all feel warmth in the cold, light in the darkness, and that we see magic hidden in the shadows.

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