Enjoying an Unusual Break from the Winter Cold
A few months ago, I shared a story about a family trip to a pumpkin patch and some of the challenges that I face during the colder times of the year. At the time, I was trying to soak up the last of the warm days before I had to retreat indoors for the winter.
Winter came shortly after I wrote that column. Although we ended up having a few unexpectedly warm days around the holidays, they were only a tease.
The cold returned and brought a shroud of gray gloominess that has lingered in the sky ever since. It’s the kind of weather that doesn’t inspire you to do a whole lot of anything except maybe go back to bed.
However, a welcome change occurred last weekend. The long-lost sun emerged, and the temperature began to rise. The day became so lovely that it would have been impossible to remain inside.
Our city boasts an extensive wheelchair-friendly trail system that my family and I take advantage of every year. We decided that this would be a perfect day to visit our favorite part of the trail.
It was still cool enough that I needed to wear a blanket-like coat, but I was elated to be able to comfortably spend more than a few minutes outside. I could roll along without worrying that my hand would get too cold and stiff to control my joystick.
As we walked, we encountered a woolly bear caterpillar scurrying across the path on a stroll of his own. We stopped to say hello and help the furry fellow find a safe place to explore.
I’ve always liked these caterpillars. After a few gentle strokes on their back to assure them that they aren’t on your menu, they warm up quickly and seem to enjoy crawling around on your hand. Since they weigh next to nothing, I can easily hold them without causing my arms or hands to become fatigued. Their little hooked feet mean that I don’t have to be too concerned that I might drop them, either.
Once we returned our new friend to the grass, we continued on our way, with rays of sunlight keeping us warm. I eventually noticed a tiredness in my wrist. Many indoor activities don’t require me to drive my chair as much as I would when it’s warm outside, and my body becomes a little unaccustomed to the movement during the winter months.
This tiredness wasn’t a bad thing, though. It was the kind of tiredness that you might experience after exercising — the kind that tells you that your body has been working hard and is very much alive. Operating my wheelchair is a unique workout that I have never been able to replicate.
We arrived back at our van as our shadows lengthened and an evening chill settled into the air. It’s only early February, so this weather probably won’t last. Winters in Indiana like to make sure they get in a final word before relinquishing their hold to springtime.
But it’s wonderful while it lasts, and I appreciate the taste of what’s to come. The fresh air has left my spirits lifted and my body refreshed. The sunshine is exactly what I needed.
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