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.