Benefits of fresh air

bur oak

I enjoyed my usual Tuesday morning light jog today with my youngest son, Michael, who is home from college. My stamina was lower than usual, for whatever reason. Not enough exercise the rest of the week, most likely.

I enjoy my regular treks through a couple of Lorain County Metroparks. It’s fun to see how the parks change each season.

Or, how they usually change. Michael jogged in shorts and a T-shirt this morning (I had on a long-sleeve T-shirt and wind pants). Today is the first full day of winter, three days before Christmas. And it’s 50 degrees in northern Ohio.

I like winter. I like the fresh cold air on my cheeks, the crunch of snow under my sneakers, the occasional sight of a deer, the silence of a crisp sunny morning. I jog carefully because the two bridges in the park get slippery when ice coats them.

Today, the bridges were a little slippery – not from snow, but because it rained all day yesterday. Rain. No snow to shovel, which is great for those of us traveling around the holidays. But it still feels like fall.

Drab, bare trees – no leaves, no snow glistening, others walking their dogs or jogging (a couple of them also in shorts) … we can see through the trees to the Black River, or just deeper into the woods. Be careful on the wet bridges.

When winter comes, snow blankets everything in white. Softness. Cold. Crisp. I just add layers of clothes, and enjoy it. Beautiful.

When spring comes, the birds return. Squirrels frolic. Leaves on the trees hide the deeper woods, and give the deer places to hide.

In summer, many young moms come out, walking or jogging with their preschoolers in strollers. Numerous folks walk their dogs. We say “Good morning” to each other, especially to the regulars.

In fall, the leaves change color, then drop to the forest floor. Some blow on to the path, crunching under my feet. They become natural compost for the soil, and the annual cycle of life begins again.

I jog to relieve stress, because it makes me feel good. Gets the heart pumping. Fresh air invigorates me. A great way to start the day.

Other days, I walk. I’m not training for a 5K or anything; I just like to be outside. With someone or alone. Mostly, alone. My mind clears. It wanders sometimes, places that surprise me. I’ve come up with ideas for this blog on my jogs/walks, or thoughts to flesh them out.

I don’t have to be in a hurry to go anywhere.

Some Tuesday mornings, I do have to be somewhere. Last week, I did my jog in late afternoon – and because the sun set so early, I was the last person to leave the park. I didn’t plan that. It just got dark too quickly.

That’s what happens when winter approaches. Weather is unpredictable, but the clock isn’t. Time marches on.

The days will get longer now. The new year arrives next week. So much promise, so much hope. An unwritten script. Time marches on.

Weather isn’t the only thing that’s unpredictable. Family situations change, jobs, health … we’ll elect a new president next year.

Time marches on. How we handle the things that happen to us determines our character. The events themselves are not good or evil, even those that seem so. It’s not your fault. It’s not someone else’s fault. It’s up to me how I live my life next year.

I choose my responses. I will jog at Bur Oak next year too, Lord willing. Or if the Lord wills something else …

I can’t make it snow. But I’m ready when it does. I’ll be out there, even as the young moms with strollers and most of the joggers move indoors to exercise.

Me and my thoughts. Me and God. That’s all I need. That, and a heart that pumps a little faster during and after the jog.

A little exercise is a good new year’s resolution if it’s not already on your list. I see young and old, men and women, boys and girls, even the occasional person with a cane. That impresses me. A person who struggles to walk has to make a special effort to visit a county park. Wow. If such a person can keep going, then I certainly can.

Hope the holidays are good to you, inside and outside. Til next time.


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