27 March 2008

temporary playground

Winter brings to me another world to explore. It changes everything from how we drive, dress, play, and how we are outside. I love that I love the cold. Today, images of the icebergs and an endless horizon of water in crisp wintry quiet air waited for me on the Michigan coast. It is spring and one never knows how much snow will be in the dunes or if the icebergs have started separating making them unreachable from shore.

Being optimistic, I opted to go cross country skiing verses donning my hiking books. This proved wise as I glided effortlessly fast and ventured where surely I would have sunk a few feet into the snow or worse, through the ice.

I came upon the last dune to the shore and was immediately blasted by the wind unbroken by any tree. The waves were rough and dissipating far from shore causing the edge of the bergs to undulate. It was gorgeous seeing the ice pushed upon itself creating large rolling hills as if waves frozen in motion. Once on the beach, I broke a new trail close to the edge of the woods. The snow was really deep there but my skis held me up. The snow pretty much ended only a few feet outside of the tree line and started again with the shore line. I didn’t trust the ice originally, but spied some cross country tracks horizontal to the shore, so after several hundred feet of clean soft fresh snow I high tailed it to the water over the sand. This still makes me chuckle as if you’re not supposed to do that. The ice was strong holding me up though creating a roller coaster anxiety as I spied pools of water and would have an occasional pole break through the crust to a create a yet another slushy new pool.

Every year it seems so strange to see tall icebergs where there should be flat water. I stand up to fifty feet off shore where I should be swimming. The wind is quite strong but I risk taking my glove off just the same to snap several photos. I imagine myself as an arctic explorer breaking new ground and braving hardy tundra. Of course, my warm car and ride to a hot coconut hazelnut soy decaf latte is only a few miles away.

Eventually I turn around as thoughts of all I should be doing for the day start to crowd into the pure delight and enjoyment of nature. I didn’t have to ski all the way to the channel I justified to myself where surely more turbulent waters were brewing under the ice perhaps creating thinner sections than could be anticipated. In this direction, the wind pushed me along such that I was only steering as if on a sleigh. I think I heard myself giggling. Glee soon turned to fear as facing north now I saw more cracks, dips, and puddles of water freshly and thinly frozen over. Continuing on the lake wasn’t prudent as perhaps all the rain that fell only days before this latest blizzard weakened the ice. I cut into the woods taking in the shadows of the falling sun and enjoying the exertion of actually having to propel myself along.

I love that I love the cold.

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