Spring from the Front Row

I must be in the front row. That’s what I keep thinking as I bike into spring this week, getting a great view of each gradation of change as I get to work and back.

Last week at this time I was facing 6 degree temperatures with a ferocious headwind, but I felt my body had fully adjusted to these conditions. I didn’t even both to cover most of my face; I just let the frost tighten and tug on my beard as it collected throughout the ride. In this kind of weather, bikers have a love/hate relationship with speed: you have to get going fast enough to generate body heat, but the faster you go the colder it seems. Five minutes into the ride you can reach a place of equilibrium, but you feel the paradox acutely until that happens.

Yesterday I rode without my jacket at the end of the day and I experienced the wind as an amiable presence, much closer in kind to my own body than the alien adversary it’s been most of the winter.

The ponds have been shedding their layers this week, which Thoreau describes in his journal today:

No sooner has the ice of Walden melted than the wind begins to play in dark ripples over the surface of the virgin water. It is affecting to see nature so tender, however old, and wearing none of the wrinkles of age. Ice dissolved is the next moment as perfect water as if it had been melted a million years. To see that which was lately so hard and immovable now so soft and impressible! What if our moods could dissolve thus completely? It is like a flush of life to a cheek that was dead.