ice in the woodsThe ice queen was born during an avalanche of sorts. Of course, all the trouble began with a war. There was a difference of opinion. It’s hard to remember what it was all about. It was so long ago.

People chose their sides. Walls were built. The people the queen loved the very most left for the other side of the wall. She didn’t understand why, but it didn’t matter. Nothing she said or did would stop them.

The queen pushed on, but one day she broke her favorite coffee mug, her cat disappeared and her magic wand ran out of battery power and she couldn’t find any AA batteries in the castle. The queen slid down to the floor, the contents of her junk drawer scattered around her and she began to cry. She kept crying and crying until a creek began to run through the castle. She still kept crying until the creek became a river and the river began to rage and the queen’s furniture and clothing and kitchen appliances were carried away in the flood.

And still she kept crying. If anything she cried harder. And she’d been crying so long that summer had turned to fall and then into winter and her tears became snowflakes and ice. The queen stopped her wailing for a moment when she heard a loud rumbling, followed by groans and creaking and crashing.

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walking dogs by Mississippi River

I used to try and vary the route I walked my dogs. Occasionally, I even drove to state parks that were hours away to spice things up. Then I noticed that I was the only one who found walking the same area boring. My dogs didn’t care.

Every time we headed out, it was as though it was the first time — new smells, new animals, new people. Moving with their noses pointing up in the air or dragging along the ground, they found a new scent story on every trip.

dogs sniffing the snow

I decided to try out an awareness exercise I read about in the book “The Not So Big Life,” by Sarah Susanka. I was to look, listen and smell, without putting a name to what my senses took in. Then do the same kind of observations, only attach the names to the sights and sounds and smells.

What I found is that without naming what I observed, I noticed colors and shapes and the contrast of light and shadow.  I heard sounds in volumes, directions, and characteristics such as high or low, percussive or long and flowing — I even heard the space between the sounds.

When I began to put names to things (crow, wind, footsteps), they became just another familiar word — letters that encompassed a group of assumptions.

It’s easier to think and talk with words that quickly define a thing. But was “easy” and “quick”what I wanted?

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fat bike parked in garage

I was recently told that I must REALLY like bicycling to ride on days when the weather isn’t nice, in other word, when it’s rainy, snowy, cold, windy, hot, cloudy, etc. I couldn’t think of a way to explain why I prefer riding my bike to driving a car, at least not in a way that I thought the person would understand.

Later that week, I was in an outdoor gear and clothing store, looking for a neck warmer that I could pull up to also protect my face from the wind. A male employee grabbed a striped, brightly colored, fleece neck warmer from a display and said, “This one is warm.”

I said, “That looks like it’s for fashion. I’m looking for something for bicycling that still breathes and will dry when it gets wet.”

“For yourself?” the employee said.

“Yes, for myself.” I said.

In my head, the response went something like this, “Hey! Are you looking at me like I’m some damn old lady who might break a hip if I ride my bike in the big, bad wintertime? You know what? I might. So might you, just crossing the bloody street! Especially if I’m waiting outside and trip you with my cane!”

I did not buy a neck warmer.

fat bike tire

So now that I’ve had some time to think (and to cool off), here’s my explanation for why I ride my bike, walk my dogs, snow ski, and do all sorts of craziness outdoors.

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