This morning’s temperature reads 28° Fahrenheit. Yesterday at this same time it was 58°. Yes, a 30° difference. That is how it goes sometimes, in Minnesota. Today my walk requires insulated coveralls. The trees are mostly bare now, with a holdout here and there. A lone tree, still clutching its leaves, still green, in fact. The trails are littered with the remnants of Summer, and the breeze spreads them around like confetti over a parade. The air is crisp but damp, holding a promise of snow, later today. Our witchcraft practicing weather forecasters have said it’s coming, how much and when, to be determined. It is November, however, which can mean anything from 70° days to below zero temperatures. How you live your life in these Northern climes, depends on Nature.
I start out dressed warmly and not too far into my walk I need to unzip, or remove my balaclava. It is said sweating in deep cold can kill a person. At 28°, it’s just uncomfortable. At a point along the trail where there is an open field I see a deer, standing as still as a stone statue. Looking directly at me, I can’t help but wonder what she thinks. Maybe a deer’s thought processes don’t go much beyond danger or not danger, I don’t know. I stay still and watch her. Slowly I realize that there is another deer, almost hidden by brush growing between me and the field. She too, watches. I wait for awhile to see if they will run. Deciding to hold their ground, I continue on my walk.
Further down the trail there is a point where the path veers off toward the river. The bank is only about 20 feet away. There is a tattered, old rope tied to an overhanging branch of a tree, reaching out about 15 feet over the water. In my mind I hear children laughing, see them swing on the rope and let go, flailing into the river below. I see warm summer days with nothing better to do than swim, and hang out together. I remember my own childhood, lived along the banks of this same river. Hunting for frogs and crayfish. Wading, swimming, and fishing here. Without a care in the world, totally unaware of the trials of adulthood waiting just a few years beyond.
These days I walk about 2 miles every morning. As I reach the 1 mile point (actually 1.2 miles) I stop. An oncoming train across the river blows its horn. As a child in summer I would lie at bedtime listening to the sounds coming from the rail yard. An old switcher engine of the Minneapolis, Northfield, and Southern Railway would move box cars and tankers around, assembling trains to be moved late at night or early the next morning. I often wondered where those trains were going, what adventures might be had if one were to hop on an open box car, to be carried away. Turning toward home, I resume my walk.
The deer I saw on my way out are gone. Leaves still flutter on the breeze. I pass a jogger, and then a walker, to be followed closely by a biker. The cold weather does not stop some of us. We continue our routines, adjusting accordingly. Before long there will be snow and ice on the trail. As long as it’s not deep I’ll continue my walks. Hopefully the city will plow this part of the trail. I didn’t walk here last year so I don’t know how far out they plow. If they don’t, there are other trails to walk which they do plow. I can always use sidewalks if I have to but these trails bring me much closer to nature, which is my goal. Finally I reach my door, and the squirrels and birds which I feed scatter at my arrival. Letting myself in, I quickly discard the warm clothing. Now, it’s time for breakfast.