Carole King, One Fine Day
According to the almanac, official spring arrived on Monday morning at 6:29 a.m., although I missed the moment because I was still asleep.
In a typical year, I’d be all over this astronomical milestone, and excited to have reached the Vernal Equinox. But this winter has been anything but typical. Maybe it’s the travel through too may time zones, or the early adjustment to Daylight Savings time, or no set work schedule, but I never seem to be sure anymore what time it is or what season.
Anyway, Monday morning didn’t bring any revelations, at least not at the start of the day. There was plenty of snow left over from last week’s storm and the ensuing cold snap. The back porch was still encased in a treacherous layer of ice, and the backyard still resembled the tundra – at least at 7:30 when I finally hobbled downstairs to make coffee.
But then… as it sometimes does in Spring, it got warmer.
The sun came out, the temperature rose, and by noon it was in the high 40’s. By the time I changed clothes for my afternoon run, it had reached 50, and a small patch of green had appeared amidst the permafrost of our back yard. I celebrated by reducing from four to three the number of layers on my torso, and by running in shorts for the first time since I could remember.
The next day was even nicer. By Tuesday afternoon, the patch of green in the back yard had tripled in size, and the streets were puddled with ice melt. As I headed out for my run, I noticed purple flowers that had appeared in front of our house where the Southern exposure encourages them. I was tempted to run in just shorts and a t-shirt, but in the end decided to add a long-sleeve shirt. Maybe it was Spring after all.
And if it was Spring, could Summer be far behind? It suddenly seemed plausible that one fine day in the not-too-distant future, trails would be clear and firm, birds would twitter gaily in the trees, balmy breezes would invite me to go shirtless, and I would be able to run as far as I liked, which would be really far.
Or it would be if I was in better shape. I was not in very good shape at the moment.
Out running, I saw quite a few joggers taking advantage of the warm afternoon and (mostly) clear sidewalks to get in some early Spring exercise. In the past, I might have paid them no mind, but on this pleasant day, I felt an unexpected kinship with them and with what I assumed was their desire to shake off winter sloth, shed a few pounds, fit into those tight jeans, and look good at that reunion. After all, wasn’t I also motivated by a similar desire to get in shape so that I’d be ready for my rendezvous with a day far in the future when I’d want to look and feel my best?
It was true that unlike some joggers, I did not suffering the purgatory of running to earn the right to look good at the beach. Instead, I suffered the purgatory of running so that I could earn the reward of even more running. But that was a matter of taste; the principle didn’t seem all that different.
As I trotted along, breathing more heavily than I would have liked, I thought about how my new semi-employed days would finally allow me enough time to run regularly, stretch and strengthen properly, and make regular appearances at the track. That was the theory, anyway, and my hope was that those things would work their magic and have me ready for more ambitious running exploits by the time the trees put forth their green leaves and the trails beckoned.
It was very un-Zen of me, I had to admit, to be thinking so far ahead instead, to be counting the un-hatched chickens of the next several weeks of training, rather than to be enjoying the present moment as sufficient. But, like most serious runners, one part of my enjoyment was in the anticipation that today’s training would transform my slovenly, out-of-shape self into the runner I wanted to be on that fine day that summer arrived.
“One fine day…”, I sang to myself… happily dreaming of the fitter, faster, healthier me that was on my way to becoming.