The legs protest at that first long reach. My muscles have grown short and bunchy over the past month, well honed to the squat round stride of the elliptical I’ve been training on during the dark days of winter, but clumsy on this cinder-strewn sidewalk. Despite this, my spirit lifts and at the first steps under the sun-illumine. I am a newborn fawn, all leggy and gawky, tremulous at the discovery of this power inside of me.
I struggle for rhythm and am lost under the canopy overhead. It’s so easy to lope in—leave life behind, forget all the things that grab at my ankles and weigh me down.
The knees begin to ache at the unfamiliar pounding and my sinuses grow thick with shaken-down mucus. My nose runs and lungs sting from cold air.
But still there is this: joy. I gasp at the raw elation I feel at the caress of the truant sun. Maybe it’s just these lungs have grown soft, lost the feel of wild air. Just breathe through.
I run by the water reservoir and watch two men drop fishing lines into ice-crusted water. They sit motionless, waiting. A gaggle of geese fall into familiar formation overhead and I feel the joy of soaring … soaring into a mirror of blue sky.
It takes two miles to warm up, as always, and I am groping for that familiar easing up. My body hums but remains sluggish, and I wonder at this life—this continual cycle of death and rebirth and this constant need to shift and recondition.
To the hill now and finally, I am breaking free of the listless winter. Nimble, it’s up we go and I know I will regret this on the morrow.
A flock of cedar waxwings startles from a branchy cherry tree and I gawk at their rakish black masks and tawny silkiness. They don’t go far, circle back around and land again, eager to pluck the dried fruit from this otherwise naked tree.
Oh, the wonder.
Where have you been? I ask Beauty. I have missed you so.
And though my body screams I push it hard and rejoice at the freedom in my limbs until I am running down the familiar street to home. As I round the final turn, I glance up at my neighbor’s birch tree and see the silver bark shimmer naked against the blue sky. And I feel the beauty of that soul-bare way down deep in my bones.
And I smile.
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