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(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

We loiter in winter while it is already spring.
Henry David Thoreau

There’s a whole new season out there—America’s sport opened yesterday with hearty shouts of “Play ball!”, the grass is way more than knee-high to the already jumping grasshoppers, Mr. and Mrs. Finch have built a nest under our patio roof, the dandelions are shining like the sun, and the most recent snow didn’t even stay on the ground a whole day—well, in most spaces.

Easter Sunday, after singing two church services (the finale of a song-filled Holy Week that began with a Saturday all day rehearsal, followed by Palm Sunday service, the two-hour Bach St. John Passion service, a Wednesday choir practice, plus Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services), I was ready for what seemed more like a long winter’s nap than spending time outside in the midst of earth’s rebirth. But with what turned out to be just a short spring fling with sleep, I was ready to experience the great outdoors I had been so missing with all that indoor singing.

My husband Sherman and our dogs Furgus and Sam were just as willing as I was to get back at moving under the big blue sky with which we were blessed on Easter.

Just a few minutes into our hiking climb up the Hogback, I realized how early in this season it still was. Yes, it was warm enough that I needed to keep an eye and ear for rattlesnake activity, but my breathing told me I hadn’t been climbing for several months. Apparently the large (to me) hills I run in my neighborhood as well as riding a chair lift up a mountain in order to ski down have not kept my lungs in anything like the hiking form I soon hope to regain. Another excuse to pause and admire the view stretching below, right? Worked for me and Sherman (though he already has been climbing on his mountain bike) even if the dogs would rather we pushed the limits from the start versus eased into the season.

By the time we descended to terra more firma, we sported evidence of both sun and dirt, morphing our winter skin into brand new shades. And speaking of brand new shades, the warmth of the new season seemed to have ushered in the return of the full moon, thanks to a cyclist-gone-commando who felt no need to hurry into his post-riding shorts. Yes, it is most certainly springtime next to the Rockies.

Transformations are happening in our home, too—though we prefer a more modest (and appropriate) approach style-wise. Our daughter is graduating from college next month. She and I are both looking for work—in many ways it seems as if finding that first post-college career job is a lot like finding one as a returning job seeker. The world wants to see both levels as stuck in the winter of our recent pasts and yet we are primed for the rapid greening that comes with spring.

Oh yes, the seasons are changing—outside and inside this house. Let us not loiter too long in winter when it is already spring—each step we take brings us closer to the growth and eventual fitness that comes with moving upward and outward into the world.

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How future trails traveled might look--and that's OK.

How future trails traveled might look–and that’s OK.

Still waiting for the thermometer to climb above zero, although the sun has been up for almost four hours by now. With these seventy degree drops in temperatures (from Sunday), most of us around here are a bit grumbly, despite having received great enjoyment from our previous exceptional fall weather. And yet, we’re not unused to cold weather—just not so soon after such unusual warmth.

My husband Sherman was home yesterday which meant we had plans to get out into the great outdoors—plans that we definitely adjusted in order to move in the warmest way possible. No casual hiking or walking—only running would do. Even if our running looks more like hiking or walking these days, what we call running does warm us up more than anything where one foot at a time stays on the ground.

Keep in mind that yesterday we were only dealing with a sixty degree temperature swing—almost balmy compared to today, right? So out we went in the middle of the day—with all our extra layers—to a quiet dirt path where our footing would remain sure, even with the light dusting of snow covering that path.

Well, at first I wasn’t certain my hands could survive—thanks to having two doggy-related potty stops right at the beginning where I had to remove gloves—but as is usually the case, the more we moved, the more our bodies and my hands begin to warm up. Pretty soon I was so glad we had not stayed in. There is something so peaceful about running in conditions that cause others to stay away. Just us and one other woman running (her=fast and us=slow) and another man and his Husky walking and nothing else moving except for hundreds of geese disturbed from their rest on a nearby lake.

I don’t understand it, but my body’s asthma is happier on a frigid day than on a hot one. On a cold day I feel younger and more able to move. The heat is less of a friend than the deep freeze we are experiencing. Now, keep in mind, I know better than to push myself—circulation and breathing as well as sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments—on such a day. Yet, I also don’t feel as if I am pushing myself in any other way than trying to get my hands warmed up enough to stay outside.

No, the biggest battle about going out for a run on a cold day—especially a surprisingly suddenly cold day—is getting out there. Well, that and getting yourself back inside before you start to sweat once you finish.

I have to say I almost loved it as much as I loved that day last week when I got to run at my sweet-spot temperature of fifty-degrees. In many ways yesterday was better because I got to do the run with my husband and dogs—and then after we finished, we got to go back inside to a warm space, so much the more appreciated for our having gone out into a cold that hadn’t been nearly as bad as we had thought.

Season’s plummet—the re-run—turned out pretty well after all.

. . . as we should call it in these parts.

'Tis the last rose of autumn 2014--and I'm not letting her die outside!

‘Tis the last rose of autumn 2014–and I’m not letting her die outside!

Wind chimes peal, switching back and forth from more constant rhythmic songs to bursts of noise, made from frantic beats. Leaves swirl and twirl, cascading to the earth, looking almost as if they are some form of moisture. Big change is coming to this sweet weather I might have said came from some other season if only the fall colors had not been so prominent.

Around these parts (front range of Colorado) we so often do not get transitions. Come late spring, it’s cold and then—boom—it’s hot. With fall, the opposite is true. What’s a body to do?

Well, not deal with the changes very well. In late May, I sweat too much and feel too lethargic for the burgeoning joy of spring that feels more like the summer that will soon seem normal or even a little cool. Usually late October is when the pattern reverses itself—I shiver and hunker down until my body realizes that the cold isn’t that cold. So I should be happy we’re one third of the way into November before I get to make this often harsh transition.

But by now I am so, so spoiled. Some nights have barely dropped into the 40s. The extra blanket has remained at the foot of our bed. The only gloves I’ve worn are lightweight.

And for me, this introduction to wintry blasts often comes with our first snow removal job. Other than my hands that seem to want to mimic some of my son’s Reynaud’s Syndrome symptoms, the rest of me often likes being out in the elements while I am pushing the snow blower. The air feels crisp in a good way and, after the initial shock of leaving my warm bed, I give in to the joy of being outside in what’s often a quiet (well, quiet if I drown out my own snow blower’s sounds) and peaceful time without much of the usual bustle of so many of the city’s citizens. However, part of my ability to feel contentment outside comes from realizing how much calmer the winds are here than in my native Nebraska—wind is a real game-changer but here our winds often only mark the initial changes.

Unfortunately, if I am called to spend extended time out in the snow in the next few days, it will be with this body that only yesterday was sweating even while I was driving around with my sunroof open and the windows rolled down.

Mother Nature, one year could you just give us a little time to get used to the idea of a new season before you drop us into one? No? I didn’t think so—why start now? Now, where did I put the hat and those socks, boots, and gloves—oh, and, shudder—the shovel?

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Of course last night was the first night of the post-time-change season, but is there anyone else out there who had trouble sleeping because the air felt too warm? Not really too warm, but too warm for winter blankets and winter pajamas? Be still my beating heart—oh, can spring be far away?

Even here in Colorado where this year’s winter has only given us extreme moments versus having been extreme all season, the hint of spring tantalizes the hopes of the heart. When did those bits of green start appearing in the lawn? And didn’t more rain than snow fall recently? And how many more types of birds are singing and flying around after months filled only with raucous murders of crows and honking gaggles of geese?

Tomorrow will likely bring a nasty mix of rain, snow, and wind, but it will be a springier mix, softened by warmer ground temperatures and longer hours of daylight. Not sure I’ll feel that way when I’m getting pelted with sleet, but with Wednesday’s sunshine, the springtime in my heart will be warming up once more.

Didn’t even know I was experiencing spring fever until I realized I was smiling just because of the change I felt in the breeze. Oh, I’ve got the fever . . . morning, night and in between!

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

The rain has begun to fall—not yet a dark and stormy night, but a change from the sunny blue-skied morning we experienced today in Colorado. I don’t watch the news on TV, but from viewing the TV station’s website, I can tell the weather people are about to hyperventilate with excitement over this weather/season change. A winter watch declared on Sunday for Wednesday? Really?

Then I remember how October snows can fall particularly hard. I had just barely moved here when the infamous—to Denver anyway—Monday Night Football Bronco Blizzard occurred, snow dropping so fast and deep that the field could barely stay cleared. (And what about getting my car pushed down a side street the next afternoon so I could go to an interview? Yes, the person hiring was just checking to see if applicants wanted the job enough.) Or the October my father—he of much TV news watching—declared he couldn’t visit because it might snow. She who scoffed last got to shovel over a foot of that particularly heavy early snow from the sidewalks and a lot more from the driveway.

These days I really do have to pay attention to winter weather forecasts since Sherman and I work in the snow removal business. Thanks to Sunday’s early warning, he has already rescued the snow blowers from the back of the storage container and fired them up to make sure they are working. Sometimes the forecasts are all about hype, but we still have to go to bed ready to do our jobs if they turn out to be right.

I can set my alarm and put out my winter clothing, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be ready to move snow tomorrow morning. For goodness’ sake, didn’t the temps hover around 80 degrees yesterday? I know this because not only did I spend yesterday afternoon outside going through my mother’s material stash and hanging newly washed pieces of fabric on the clothesline, but I also walked the dogs in a rush to pick up my car from the auto shop just minutes before the place closed.

This morning I kept up the washing pace, getting as much material on the line to dry before the clouds took over the sky. By the time I came out of my noon exercise class, the clouds were winning. Not much later following my slow jog out in brisk winds, the dropping temperatures started to settle into my bones. As quickly as I could, I got out of my shorts and T-shirt, cleaned up, threw on warm clothes, and moved the heater’s switch to “on.”

Now I’m sitting in my chair, so glad for the warmth provided by my blankets, dogs, and laptop. What is it about a change in the seasons that makes me feel so much colder than the temperatures both inside and outside indicate?

Kind of silly considering I love fall, especially in Colorado. The forecasters predict snow tonight but a return to temperatures in the 60s by the weekend—typical fall weather for us. Maybe my chill is just some sort of instinct tied to earlier eras when living through winter meant dealing with darkness, cold, and not even as much as semi-accurate predictions of future weather.

Tonight I am grateful for my cozy shelter. Although I like my seasons to come in fours, I find the transitions a little rough. But tomorrow morning, once I get out into the snow, I’ll be reminded just how refreshing cool air and moist snowflakes can feel after a summer (and fall) of dry heat.

Change is good.

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