The weather this month has been beyond unreasonably great. Tulips are blooming already.
I’ve been riding bikes lots and lots and lots. And busy with other life things too.
My first race of the year is tomorrow. It’s off-road. It has rained all day today and we’re in an “areal flood advisory”. Tomorrow is going to be FUN.
Does this happen to anyone else who wears contacts? Where your sunglasses don’t quite fit the shape of your face, and so you’re riding your bike along because maybe the sun was out an hour ago and it was 40 degrees and the roads are clear even though it has started snowing again. And because your sunglasses aren’t just right, a steady stream of wind funnels under the lens and up into your eye just enough where your contacts can’t get a good seal on your eyeballs, and everything goes out of focus. You try to blink extra fast to keep them moist and in perfect alignment, but it does no good. It starts with one eye first, then just when you think you’ll be fine with half clear-half blurry vision, nothing is sharp anymore.
You can push your glasses hard onto your face so they pinch your nose and try to shape the wind, but the only way to regain vision is to stop pedaling for a minute. Stop all the wind.
Of course, the lake effect snow that was nowhere to be seen on the radar at the start of the ride has picked up and started accumulating on the bends in my elbows and the tops of my shoe covers, so stopping is out of the question. The only course of action is to keep pedaling, head down because any farsightedness is long gone, and not mind the numbness slowly spreading from one toe to the next.
But I’m smiling, because I’m out on my road bike, which seems even lighter and springier after months of exclusively riding the cross bike when outside, and maybe I didn’t need to see everything along the side of the route anyway. There are huge fluffy snowflakes falling and I’m still dry and the clouds have moved in to block out the afternoon sun so even with 20/20 vision you couldn’t see the next stop ahead sign.
Outside today it is Tennessee, a year ago. I’m wearing my raincoat and walking swiftly with my head down to avoid getting raindrops on the lenses of my glasses, and I should have worn another layer, because it’s cold – not at all like yesterday. Or maybe gloves, at the least. My hands are never warm, always turning purple. I shove them in my coat pockets and they don’t warm up one degree. The pockets in my jeans offer a little body warmth. Everything is wet and gray and the wind cuts a little deeper than it did in November. And I’m not sure what I’ll find on the next day’s hike. Everything is misted over and refusing of long-distance clarity. Like a year ago when we slept under the stars at 5000 feet, bundled up in wool and synthetic and I sweated through every layer all the way to the ground. Or maybe my sleeping pad soaked up water from the damp Earth all around us and everything flowed the other way. I didn’t know. But I knew.
This winter has been an anomaly. Nary a dumping of snow that could last longer than a week before the sun beat it back into the ground. Someone wiser than me noted a couple days ago, “While this mildness may sound like something to be grateful for, the lack of meteorological punctuation has in fact caused the season to drag on more tediously than usual.” The kind of tediousness that takes the shine off of every day hobbies. I’ve been on the wrong side of the creating-consuming equation lately.
It smells like spring. Birds are chirping and at least the rain has a pleasant scent. Yesterday, Aaron, who was with us in the Great Smoky Mountains last spring, set off to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. I don’t think he plans to provide many updates from along the route, but I wonder if he’ll stop at Charlies Bunion and crack open a beer again and watch the stiff wind clear the clouds for just a minute.