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Early winter walking

A woman in a red coat with a peach-colored umbrella walking down a snowy street in winter light.

December is here, and with it the reality of winter, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.  This time last year I was here, snorkeling and diving and kayaking, at the beginning of summer.

Now I’m back to my regular non-sabbatical life, in my non-sabbatical home.  A recent view out my window, after a brief dusting of snow, looked like this.

I’m riding some, but not much right now.  It’s that frenetic, festive time between Thanksgiving in late November and New Year’s, filled with grading and parties and more grading and traveling to see family, hopefully having finished the grading before Christmas.

One thing I’m doing differently this year:  I’m walking every day.  Some of the Fit is a Feminist Issue bloggers and friends are doing a challenge of running a mile every day from Thanksgiving until New Year’s.  We will be doing a group blog about this on New Year’s Day, reporting our experiences.

For me, running is not an option, as my knee won’t allow it.  So I’m walking instead.  I’ll post more about how that went later, but for now:

Walking in winter is… well, really nice.

I love the colder temperatures (and it’s not really that cold.. yet).  When I was walking to work in Sydney spring/summer during my sabbatical and also in August (late winter for them, spring temps relative to Boston), I arrived at work drenched in sweat.  I tend to run hot anyway, and because of perimenopause I’ve had to completely rethink my clothing, because I run even hotter these days.

It turns out that this is a positive feature for a person living through New England winters.  First, it means that my heat bills will certainly be lower (I’m not actually kidding).  And second, it means that winter walking is extremely pleasurable.  I wear layers and peel off or vent as need be (and trust me, the need definitely be!).  And the cold feels GOOD.  Third, it’s been an opportunity to explore a new winter accessory:  headbands!

Yes, I see the earmuffs on the left.  I wanted to include them because 1) my aunt Cathy gave them to me– thanks, Aunt Cathy!; and 2) they are a viable option to the headband for those who find hats too warm for conditions.

The blue Castelli headband is one I use for cycling, but the pretty burgundy flowered one is new.  And it’s perfect for keeping my ears warm and rest of head cool enough while I’m (literally) steaming around in cold weather.

Walking in winter (so far) also feels quieter and more calm than walking in other seasons.  Here, the trees are bare and sometimes the sky is gray, or it’s a crystal blue.  The air is crisp, and sometimes the wind is blowing.  But walking, I’m ready for it.  I’m going at a slower pace than a runner, easily able to futz with clothing or switch out a hat for my  headband.  I’ve got tissues, too.

No, this isn’t a vigorous activity.  I’m not sweating much or at all.  I’m not going very far. But I’m liking it very much, this winter walking.  Of course, I can’t wait for real snow to come (famous last words, I know); I plan to do a lot of cross country skiing.  And there will be winter riding too, depending on the snow and road conditions.  But right now, early winter walking is a quiet pleasure, perfect for the period before harsher winter arrives.

What’s your favorite season for walking?  How do you like being out and about in winter?

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