From November 15, 2014
My father looks at me like I’m crazy. It’s three degrees with a wind chill of negative five and I’m bundled in layers of clothes, my running shoes tied on snugly. He can’t believe I am going to go outside. Today is one of those days where the temperature preceded to drop throughout the day, rather than increase, and with the minutes of sunlight numbered, it’s now or never for running. Dad shakes his head as I pull my scarf over my mouth and reach for the door. With a promise to be careful and be back soon, I head out.
The only other life outside is a group of neighborhood kids, bundled in snowsuits and looking ready to start a snowball fight. I turn the opposite direction and creep along the icy street to the field and take the alleyway around the perimeter, passing by the snow covered park and backyards of the neighbors. Except for bunny tracks weaving along and under fences, my footprints are the only blemish on the perfect snow. Everything is quite and still. Not even the bunnies are out, the wind making it all but miserable to be in the open.
The alley ends at a construction site where the prairie is slowly being turned into residential space. Nothing is moving today though, the equipment too frozen probably to even turn on. I run through the middle of the site, happy to have the freedom to romp around without disturbing anyone’s work.
At the edge of the site, my trail runs into a barbed-wire fence, along which runs another trail. The trail heads up a ridge and I huff and puff my way up, my lungs still not quite used to both the elevation and the cold. My going is slow, my toes frozen from the snow and the wind rushing through my layers. I’m just starting to think that maybe my dad was right, I am crazy, when I crest the ridge.
Sprawled in front of me are the Snowy Range Mountains. Dark blue-grey clouds obscure the jagged peaks and turn the sides of the mountains almost purple. The prairie stretches out below until it reaches the outskirts of town. Spotted rays of sunshine stream through the clouds, highlighting mountain ridges and golden grassy hills. The view takes my ragged breath away.
My frozen cheeks ache as a smile brightens my face. There is nothing in the world quite like this sight and it makes the cold, the desolation worth it.