Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jogging in place

The three phases of winter in New England are The Holidays, Ski Season and Let's Get This Over With.

This winter skipped over the second phase, at least for skiers who depend on natural snow. Even if we get snow now, most people have moved on to Phase Three. Even I, who used to love cross-country skiing as a great winter break and alternative conditioning method, have moved on to Phase Three, possibly permanently. Winter is too unreliable.

In Boston yesterday with the cellist it felt like spring. The temperature was supposed to hit the 50s. It felt more like the 60s in the sun. I saw one guy walking down Tremont Street dressed in tee shirt, jeans and flip flops. Others wore full-on winter parkas. The sunshine in the middle of the day drew attention away from the bare trees.

Cyclists were less numerous than in the officially warm months, but still numerous. Their garb ranged from optimistically light to absurdly heavy, the same as the pedestrians.

By 4 p.m. the illusion of spring cooled and dimmed. It's late February. Nothing changes that except the steady progress of one day after another.

We had left home on snowy roads. An inch of snow had fallen during the night. Temperatures here were forecast to rise to around 50. We arrived home to find the roads clear and all the new snow gone. The ice sheet on part of the driveway still hangs on, but the soft new flakes dissolved in twelve hours.

March could be snowy, for what that's worth. As a cross-country skier I never felt ready to take full advantage of a late bounty of snow after a winter of improvised training, even when I was younger and more obsessed. Skiing was never the religious observance with me that it is with some people. It's truly a fantastic activity, but if it does not fit into a practical schedule it becomes a luxury. That puts it up against any other luxuries I might try to afford.

Bike commuting is a necessity. It has supported my economy and general well-being for decades. I'm sure most people consider biking to be a luxury and driving to be a necessity. That explains a lot about the average state of mind and body. It is certainly a more normal point of view. It's just one of many norms that need to be questioned.

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