Monday, January 9, 2012

New thing #13: Spring in winter

Never in my 50 years have I gone outside for a run on the first Saturday of the new year. For one thing, it's usually too snowy and cold here in my native Northeast. For another, running has only recently become a passion of sorts. But this is a special year, and temperatures 30 degrees higher than usual prompted Senior and I to put on sneakers, grab the pup and head out to enjoy the day.

There's a cute little township park about a mile from my house. It has lots of baseball and soccer fields and a small pond, and no admission fees. I always like to see the green space when I pass by, but I've rarely gone in since my kids outgrew recreational sports. Senior had been there recently though, and found that they had cut some new trails through the woods surrounding the playing fields. With this in mind, we headed down the hill towards the park to do some exploring.

Sunlight filtered down through the tall trees on the well-marked trails.  A thick layer of wood chips kept our feet dry as we wound through the woods and up and down some challenging hills.  We followed one trail up a really steep hill to a dead end.  At this point we did a little off-roading. Along one side of the park near a subdivision, we came across a lean-to in the woods.  We were glad to see kids are still using their imagination!  A little further on we hit a marsh, and decided that mucking across to get back to the main trail would not be the best plan. We backtracked and picked up a new trail, hiking most of the park before heading back home. Along the way I learned what a Shagbark Hickory looks like, and how to finesse a farmers' blow. It was a fantastic afternoon.

The last quarter mile towards home was uphill, and into a wind that finally remembered it was January instead of April. But that didn't put a damper on our enjoyment of this once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of Spring in the middle of our Michigan winter.

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