I love a good walk with a friend, especially these days when those soothing balms of socialization have become a little trickier to apply.
We tramp off, mostly toward the river, and unburden ourselves of adulthood while we breathe in good, clean air.
Walks with friends provide the perfect antidote to whatever life throws your way, and some perfect anecdotes to keep you smiling long after you’ve arrived back home.
So, my friends and I are not about to let a little windchill stand our way.
We bundle up in our game day gear, which, sadly, none of us had the occasion to wear to an actual game this year. Still, as my friend John recently wrote, we’ve learned here in Wisconsin that there is no such thing as inclimate weather, just inappropriate clothing.
You start the process, of course, with your cuddle duds, a warm first layer that feels like a favorite pair of pajamas (and often is). Then, perhaps, a pair of jeans, a thick sweatshirt, the neck gaitor your sister in-law Robin gave you for Christmas a few years ago, a large and long winter coat with a nice big hood, the scarf your friend Beth knit you with enviable ease, the hat she knit your daughter that you borrow on every now and then, the giant mittens your mom bought you 35 years ago from an old woman she met in Estonia who “looked just like your great-gandma”, the Hot Pockets your wise friend brought to tuck in your mittens, and a fistful of fresh Kleenex.
Then, once you head out and realize you’d left your nose exposed, you wrap your scarf around your face a third time, which tightens everything so snugly around your face you don’t feel the -30 degree wind chill at all (although it also leaves you with the peripheral vision of a rhinoceros so you’re a bit of a menace as your make your way down the street).
On you go, chatting amiably and staring hard at a spot just in front of your foot prints, lest you slip and take your friend down with you.
But, you’re moving, you’re grooving and you’re even feeling somewhat virtuous because you could so easily be back at home on your couch binge watching the Office and dunking chocolate chip cookies into your spiked hot chocolate.
Then, you spot the ducks — frolicking in and around the river as though cold steam wasn’t rising from it and giant ice chunks weren’t breaking off and hurtling toward them. You spot the ducks and you know they, too, have friends who have made their way south toward warmer weather. Friends who, right this very second, are toes up on a beach chair and musing idly about whether they’d missed a spot with their sunblock.
And, even though your first thought is, “Have those ducks lost their minds?” your second one immediately follows and it goes something like this:
“They’re out there are having fun because they can and, if they can, so can I!”
You remember, then, that Wisconsin has had much colder days. Why, in February of 1996 the actual air temperature was -51 degrees and people survived, even thrived in those conditions! (You don’t actually remember this, you looked it up, but that’s important too, because you were there, back in 1996, living in the same house you’re living in now and you don’t even remember that day specifically, just kind of vaguely, which indicates how insignificant that temperature was.)
So, you feel at one with those happy ducks as you waddle on home. It isn’t so bad once you get used to it, especially if you’ve layered up right.
Winter in Wisconsin doesn’t last forever so you might as well enjoy it while you can.