Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27: Cold Run

Right now the thermometer says it's in the low 20s, but with wind chill, I'm sure it's really about ten degrees colder. So despite the day's sunny aspect, it's understandable why I debated for a while about whether to run outside or hit the Y this morning. Laziness won out over bodily comfort--I didn't feel like trekking across town to the Y to run in circles--so I bundled up and went outside. And then promptly turned around and came back inside for yet another layer. The sight of a budding daffodil in the yard did encourage me, however, that I had made the right decision opting "out." If that tender young flower could handle the cold, so could I.

As I began my slow plod up the street, I was encouraged to hear song sparrows singing. Focusing on their songs--and not the cold air searing my lungs or the wind buffeting my exposed ears--helped. As I moved through the crisp, beautiful, blue-sky morning, song sparrows were singing on both sides of the road. I felt like I was running along a song sparrow parade route. Small flocks of them scattered from the side of the road like wind-tossed leaves. Sparrows at every step, a song from every corner, each one a slight variation on the same theme.

A cold morning run
serenaded by sparrows--
each step a new song.

On one lawn, a small flock of robins poked around and clucked. This distracted me enough to make it up the biggest hill on my intended route. As I reached the relatively sheltered, tree-lined corridor of Cobb Road, it got even better. Birds were singing everywhere: song sparrows, a house finch, several downy woodpeckers, strident blue jays, goldfinches, more song sparrows, more robins, titmice, chickadees, trilling juncos, and the beautiful, liquid spring song of a lone brown creeper. Despite the shell of ice on the little patch of marsh, a single red-winged blackbird sang, undaunted. Two crows in a big oak silently watched me pass. As I headed home down Washington Street, flocks of sparrows seemed to linger in every bush, and I wished, not for the first time, that there were a way to run with binoculars. In one sunny spot, a male downy woodpecker's red head spot caught the light and shone like a little beacon. Back on my own street, golden-crowned kinglet songs floated overhead. And before I knew it, I was slogging down the sidewalk to my oh-so-warm house, grateful to the birds for having escorted me all the way through my chilly run.

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