I have the joy of living in Northern Europe where, unlike the constant heat of some countries, the temperature drops gloriously low to welcome in the festive season. Living in the land of the Ch’tis, we are used to mist, bitter rain and wind, but occasionally, heaven smiles on us and we are greeted with blue skies and frost – a new dawn rises with a late sun piercing icy darkness to reveal a majestic day.
This is the call to get out running! A temperature of -4 degrees Centigrade holds no fear for those used to slipping on their lycra tights and running jackets! Gloves are an essential as well as a good covering for the ears – I crown myself king of the day with my Adidas headband!
A first intoxication of cold, fresh air fills my lungs as I step out on yet another running quest. The first objective is leave the predictable asphalt to get to the country paths in the nearby woods and hills. The first crunch of my feet on the stiffened grass is like the first note of a symphony, and, like Tchaikovsky, when he first saw “Swan Lake” performed, I feel, “a moment of absolute happiness.”
The frost seems to re-frame creation into a vibrant still life masterpiece where even so-called dead things are re-dewed with life. I experience my own physical oxymoron of cold and heat combined as my icy face is warmed by the generous sun’s rays. I want someone to thank for such an experience of being so alive!
I climb a long, steep track leading to a viewpoint of the whole region. Usually this track is caked in heavy mud that sucks out the life from the legs and adds five layers to the soles of my shoes. However, I am transformed. The frosty baptism has enabled me to walk, God- like on the mountains, my feet in modern times, gliding unblemished over the now hardened mud.
I take in the view. The world is quiet and still, a good place to be. I feel my heart beating comfortably within me, the long climb has not worn me out. I have reached that pleasurable point of being fit enough to run briskly and yet still feel comfortable enough to enjoy the scenery – this is richness indeed!
Like those apostles of old, descending sadly from the Mount of Transfiguration, I have to rejoin a world of houses and central heating! The primal moments of pleasure have to be re-groomed into civilisation.
I plod again on asphalt.