Fifty seven degrees is a little on the cool side. Especially inside. That was the temperature in my house when I crawled out from under a mound of blankets and started to pull on layers for a Sunday morning ride. Bike shorts, wool socks, sports bra, thermal top, jersey, fleece cycling pants, earwarmer, shoes, toe warmers, jacket, full fingered gloves, helmet, and glasses. Between the gloves and the helmet I realized I had to go to the bathroom. So I peeled it all off and a few minutes later jimmied it all on again.
After a pair of clementines and a tasty bowl of oatmeal, I stepped outside and watched my breath float away in great, pallid puffs. It was going to be a cold one all right.
As I stood in my driveway waiting for Laura, the tiniest of snowflakes began to tumble down. If I looked carefully enough I could see one every fifteen seconds or so. Laura pulled up breathless and rosy cheeked and we set off for a long climb to Shasta Dam.
We cajoled our bikes along the frigid roads, the flakes falling in even sheets, resting on my handlebars, forming an icy crust on my bike computer. We climbed closer to the Dam and snow began to settle in the crevices of the mountains.
The air smelled clean and big gulps of it seemed to eradicate life’s turmoils. My toes were frozen statues. My nose was a faucet. And I was carefree. Carefree as snow dusted my helmet and melted on my gloves. I grinned and stuck out my tongue, catching snowflakes as I pedaled. We passed a mother walking with her little girl. The little girl had her tongue out, too, and we exchanged smiles. Laura and I rode in an almost giddy state. Every few seconds one of us would giggle or exclaim “This is so cool!” We reached Shasta Dam and took a moment to snap photos. As sweat and snow dampened our clothes, we began the decent home. The cold was bitter against my teeth and unprotected face. Ice crystals pricked my skin and my eyes welled up with tears. I could say that the tears were from the cold, but in truth they were an unbidden response to the splendor of the snow.
The world doled out beauty today and I was fortunate enough to catch some of it on my tongue.