When I was a kid I went outside to play after school every single day. Even when it was bitter cold, I went sliding on Malat’s hill or skating on Bassett Creek. I couldn’t wait to get out of my school uniform and into my snow pants and I didn’t come home until it got dark.
I still love being outside, but somewhere along the way I lost the love for being outside in the cold. It probably started when I suddenly began refusing to wear tights to school because they were not cool and stubbornly insisted on walking to school with bare legs. It probably was reinforced while waiting in line on Hennepin Avenue in my mini skirt for movie tickets to see Sidney Poitier in To Sir with Love and Vanessa Redgrave in Camelot. Baring one’s legs and standing or walking in sub-zero wind chills should be mutually exclusive events, but tell that to a teenager.
This year I have decided to make peace with the cold. After all, I live in Minnesota and it’s cold here for six months out of every year so I might as well learn to like it. Last spring I began walk/jogging along Theodore Wirth Parkway every day, and I’m planning to keep it up all winter long.
Today was a little tough. The temperature was near zero and a bitter wind was determined to wreak havoc with the falling snow before it reached the ground. The flakes that hit me as I crossed the railroad bridge on Golden Valley Road were not the soft, fluffy stuff of fairy tales, but sharp, piercing needles of ice that hurt as they pockmarked my face. Fortunately, I wasn’t running into the wind most of the time. Still, I think it might be time to dig out Colin’s old skiing goggles for days like this.
The amazing thing is that I did not slip. There is a sheet of ice under the new snow that didn’t give me any trouble at all. I credit my Yaktrax and I thank my friend, Denice, for telling me about them. I got a pair for $20 at Dick’s and they’re worth every penny. There was only one other runner out on the parkway with me this morning and he was leaving Yaktrax footprints, too.
Yaktrax are made of an elastic material called polyelastomer and steel coils. They fit right over the sole of the shoe, are lightweight and surprisingly comfortable, and are easy to put on and take off. The strips of elastic that fit across the bottom of the shoe are covered with steel coils that provide traction. I think Yaktraks work something like chains on snow tires. Instead of slipping on the ice, they provide stability as they scrape against it. I recommend them; I haven’t enjoyed winter this much since I was a kid.