I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I pulled on a pair of long johns, my slinky bicycle pants and garish jacket and went for a bike ride.
It was the first day of spring. It was overcast, windy and 32 degrees. It was snowing.
“This isn’t so bad,” I thought, lying my ass off, before I turned around.
Winter goes on for a long time in Vermont.
As I write this, we are expecting a storm that will bring us a foot of snow.
This is not an April Fools joke.
Most winters I’ve managed to run a few hundred miles through the snowy woods to keep myself alive.
Not this year.
This winter I lay around, finished the novel, ate cheese and swelled up like a balloon.
Also, I have an affliction that Guys Of My Age may understand.
When I bend down, for instance to reboot the computer router, a tendon on the outside of my knee screams as though it is about to snap.
Naturally, I perform this action as infrequently as possible. But sometimes I have to reboot the damn thing.
Now, here’s the thing. As often as I have done this – and it happens pretty often – and as awful as the consequences of it may be, I could not tell you for sure which knee it is.
And I am not about to kneel down right now so I can tell you.
You’d think a guy would remember a thing like that.
But you would be wrong.
What a guy would do is avoid it, if he could.
For as long as he can.
Which in my case was all winter.
Which is why I found myfatself riding my bike in the snow on the first day of spring. And most every day since.
It’s not so bad, if you’re a moron.
The long johns keep you sort of toasty. They have a comforting way of restricting movement, making it difficult and unwieldy.
The air is certainly … bracing.
And it’s a fine thing to see a solitary crow standing in the middle of a snowfield, wondering what the hell he’s doing there, as surely as I am wondering the same thing.
The creeks flow clear and cold. The sugar houses smoke as farmers burn big fat logs to boil maple sap down into syrup.
In one old house in the woods, an old man used a snow-blower to cut a path from his back door to the woodpile – but he hadn’t bothered to plow the driveway.
All winter long.
I also have a problem with my lower back. It hurts all the time, except when I’m on my bike.
It could be because I’m fat; it could be because I’ve been riding my bike; it could be a lot of things. But since the only time it feels OK is when I’m on my bike, swaddled like an Eskimo on a seal hunt, I think my only choice is to keep riding the bike.
The robins are back. You can hear Northern cardinals, but you seldom see them. You wouldn’t think a cardinal could hide, singing his heart out in a treetop, but they’re hard to spot. I saw one today for a fraction of a second, flashing by like a forgotten love, like passion, like fifty years of my life.
I smelled the smoke from a sugar house, saw the ice melting on the pond, saw a single goose flying north, followed by three ducks. I crossed the Massachusetts state line and pedaled to the top of the hill, then turned around and headed toward home into that cold north wind.
I couldn’t stand it anymore.