PUMPING IRONY: The Cold, Hard Facts

After a winter’s-worth of flesh-numbing cold last week, I was finally able to get out and hoof it to the office this morning.

I was rewarded with another sighting of the red-tailed hawk I’ve mentioned here earlier. Walking up 46th Street, about a block from the bridge, I heard crows cawing and cast a glance just above and to my right, where, perched majestically in a scrub oak not 15 feet from where I stood, the hawk was absorbing a blistering critique from a single audacious crow. I stopped to watch for a moment, until the hawk took its leave, the crow nipping at its heels.

It was the second time in three days that I’d crossed paths with the big bird.

On Saturday, instead of heading back to the rink to skate, I decided to let my blister heal and took Brigit, the family dog, for a long walk. We covered maybe two or so miles in the course of 40 minutes, (Brigit is never in a hurry; she likes to stop and smell the urine) making a circuit from 54th Street to Minnehaha Park at 50th, took a bit of a detour to explore the bridge spanning the Minnehaha Creek gorge and connecting the park with the state’s veteran’s home, before heading south again along the parkway. Against the gray sky, I spied the hawk, which swooped overhead, buffeted by a nasty northwest wind that was beginning to spit sleet.

Brigit and I made our way past the dog park without incident (she is not always sociable), and I pulled my cap down lower over my ears against the wind as we trekked up the snow-packed sidewalk toward home.

My two older brothers (64 and 61) do not suffer winter gladly. Because they can, (one is retired, the other semi-retired), they make for warmer climes in their RVs as soon as the holidays appear in their rear-view mirrors. Currently, they’re happily ensconced in the vicinity of Ft. Myers, Fla., no doubt checking the weather reports on their laptops and basking in their excellent winter latitude. I’m happy for them. Really I am. But, I’m beginning to understand that the key to surviving a Minnesota winter is not to shrink from it, but to experience it wholeheartedly.

Except when you have to go to the gym, which I did both Friday night and earlier this evening. It’s plenty warm down there and you get to sweat in a way that’s hard to replicate at 10 below. And I did so Friday — to an extent that left me stiff and sore all weekend. By this evening, I was pretty much back to normal and ran through my routine with little trouble (five minutes on the bike had my left knee barking, so I moved over to the Elliptical Death Machine) and left feeling every bit as happy as a brisk walk in the park — without the frostbite.

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