Snow simplifies a landscape.

Inaction gives me a certain amount of anxiety. I like to be in motion, changing things up, doing things, moving. Winter seems deliberately made for stasis, and in case you want to fight it, here’s some snow, and more snow, and ice, and mud, and maybe some more snow. You have to shovel out, scrape off the ice, wear layers, bundle up, armor your feet, cover your ears and hunker down. Even my tires are deflating in the cold. It takes more energy to move slower and even more energy to be okay with that.

This morning I drove to the trail in the dark, snow starting to fall (again). As I ran, the flakes coming at me were bright in my headlamp beam and I felt like I was in Star Trek, heading into warp speed (very, very slowly). The trail was empty. Not that there has been a ton of traffic up there these days, but the foothill trail users are a notoriously hardy bunch, and it was kind of startling that not only did I see no one and there were no cars at the trailhead, but the trail wasn’t even particularly packed down.

The hills are coated with the smoothest covering of sparkling white. There was a half-inch of fresh, light powder on top of the many inches that have fallen this week. What is usually rocky, lumpy, grassy, shrubby… all is covered and united in soft white domes. I and the scrub oak branches poking out here and there were the only breaks in the white. And it was so quiet. Eventually, I saw a skier, skinning up without breaking the silence. I called out “Good morning!” and his voice, as he returned the greeting, seemed to express surprise at seeing me. Perhaps he was focused on his efforts and didn’t see me coming. Even with a city just below us, his voice was the only sound, a little too loud, and it jarred a bit.

It was a short run. The trail got lumpy and I am protecting a tender ankle, so I turned back earlier than I hoped. But the solitude, silence, and simplified landscape did more for curing my January angst than hours in a gym would have. I am a broken record this winter, but you’ve got to trust me on this one: go play outside! Your dogs will love it, and no one wants to hear anyone complain about the cold, snow, rain, mud, ice, snow, snow, snow. Not for weeks on end. Winter just does it’s thing, you know? And hunkering down… well, it doesn’t suit me.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA