Days of Crunchy Walks

Conference calls are a daily fact of life if you work in a satellite office. They can be OK, but mostly they aren't. The worst of them are with a group of people—four, say—who are in the same room but apparently don’t like each other and thus are occupying each of the room’s corners, respectively, several feet from the speaker-phone mic. And one of them is a low talker.

Today’s calls weren’t that bad, but after three or four hours on the phone, interspersed with keyboard-and-screen focused activities, I was dying to get outside. And so was the boy, who had spent most of his day noodling in the system folder of our Mac Mini, leaving me a three-hour cleanup job this evening. (He’s nine and he wants to mess with AppleScript on our new Mac. His mother the computer geek tells him no, no, no, that is fraught with danger. He was in tears tonight when he heard the computer was giving me the Spinning Ball of Death. Maybe he’s learned a lesson.)

We suited up and walked in the snow, the great Portland snow of zip-eight. That was today’s workout—walking in the snow for about six miles. The first couple of miles were with the boy so we dawdled a bit, taking pictures, ogling icicles and wagering that this or that yellow spot “was probably from some dog scampering around in the snow.” Once said boy was safely dropped off at his mother’s, I walked home, meandering whatever streets looked interesting. It was about a half-hour before sunset when I set out and nearly dark when I arrived home. It must be the snow and the cloud cover, but the light was ethereal. I walked fast, stopping only for more pictures of the crowds sledding down closed-off NE 39th Ave at Wistaria. Traffic was light but there were a few cars out and about. When I could I stayed on the road, enjoying the good footing of hardpack. But for long stretches down Broadway and Halsey I soldiered along barely trammeled sidewalks. I have the shoes for deep and uneven stuff, a huge pair of Sorel Conquest snow boats, given to me more or less in another lifetime. These are the Hummers of snow boots, I realized, blasting by some old fart in rubbers.

Tomorrow I’ll do some pushups and weights, and some serious hiking on Mount Tabor. No ride? No ride. There will be months and months of churning in the basement as the cool Northwest rain rolls off the roof and pings and sings its ways down and out the spout right outside the window where I ride. Yes, six months of training for Coeur d’Alene will take focus and dedication, but it will also take imagination. Even on a fine May day you don’t stay focused for a six-hour ride. You mix it up with your pals, you curse cars, you let the mind drift a bit and you conjure memories. Memories, say, of pounding your way through 12 inches of snow on a trail through glowing orange woods in the middle of the city.


  1. I enjoyed reading this. Walking through the snow sounds peaceful albeit cold!


  2. Thanks, Liz. It is really cool (easy for me to say since I don't have to drive in it...)