Short days always make me lethargic. The indoor world of winter with man-made heat is stifling. The days are brief; the nights drag on. Darkness is all around, dampening and lowering my mood. A dull sadness floats in stale air.
Outside, dirty month-old snow reminds me of how long the winter has been – too long. Sounds of crunching under hurrying feet emanate from a dog-walker whose steps fall hard behind a frolicking four-legged friend. For a moment, I wonder how life goes on in the heavy, dingy dimness.
Intermittent thaws have teased me, lulling me into believing that winter’s end was near. Wispy breezes and a distant sun blazing on snowy mounds foretold of budding flora.
To combat my plummeting mood, I venture out into the frigid air to free myself from the suffocation of narrowing walls. Icy air lashes my face, biting into my tepid skin, freezing the inside of my nostrils as cold air flows into my nasal passages, seeking warmth in my inflating lungs.
My bike stands motionless, looking out of place in the snow. Cold is embedded in the steel, thawing slightly as I grip the glistening handlebars. The frozen tires look as if they will crack under my weight. A quick ride through the lingering cold might remind me of the spring warmth just down the road.
Mounting my bike, I know that I will soon feel numb; but, the movement will do me good. I can’t help but pretend that I will somehow ride away from the darkness into a radiant summer day.
As I round a bend, the warmth of a baked brick building surrounds me. I can’t tell whether it has retained indoor heat and sunrays but the shock from it dissolves my glumness.
A sun, still too weak to take the chill off of my shivery body, shines brightly – a harbinger of days to come.
Circling my neighborhood with nowhere to go, I mimic the rhythm of the wheels rolling beneath me. The mobility breathes new life into me. Invigorated, my mood begins to level out.
Removing myself from the dreary present, I think of the future. It has so much potential. I imagine myself out of this polar dungeon. In my mind I’m riding along a winding country road, sun beating down on my head, sweat descending from my back, road grime clinging to my moist legs. In the moment, the heat seems unbearable, but at the end of a long winter – on the brink of spring – such a scene appears ideal. Ultimately, I see myself blossoming into honed, hardened thighs borne of long arduous rides – so typical of late summer – and so unlike my puny winter physique.
Soon, with the stroke of a clock, the days will grow artificially longer. We are saving daylight, they tell us. Or maybe we are just coordinating our lives to deceive ourselves into thinking that the light outweighs the darkness. Either way, for a light addict, the additional hours of usable sunlight will mean more time outdoors – and freedom from the palisade of nighttime’s indoor retreat.
For the time being, I will pedal myself into good cheer and wait patiently for brighter days to emerge from winter’s pallor.