Despite the near-record snowfall of this winter, I’ve spent plenty of time outside. Due to my good fortune in living on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic and having a reliable plow service, I’ve been able to continue my running streak with a daily mile or two, take frequent walks, and even continue my ten-mile-run habit on Saturdays.
So when I read an article recently about people becoming morose from lack of fresh air and exercise, I didn’t think it applied to me.
And then one day as I was letting the dog out into the yard, where, ever since the snowpiles grew taller than she is – several storms ago – she’s had to run along the one narrow path we shoveled for her, turn around, and run straight back, I realized not all outdoor time counts equally.
Because I’ve been feeling like the dog recently: running – or walking, or doing anything – on one straight path. And even though that’s better than not getting out at all, it still feels confining.
Part of this is my own fault for not finding other options. Most winters I replace my occasional walks in the woods with snowshoeing. But even snowshoeing has been impractical this winter, with frigid temperatures most days and snow so fluffy that in four feet of snow, the snowshoes still sink three feet.
Getting out at all in this weather is a privilege, but I miss the feeling of open space. I miss walking through the woods or even just across the lawn. Like the dog, I’m tired of every path being so very narrowly circumscribed.
Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise are all important to our emotional well-being, but so is a sense of open space, I’m beginning to realize. Walking or running in a singular line is better than nothing, but I can hardly wait until the snow melts and I can walk in any direction at all once again.