Since it was supposed to snow late Friday/early Saturday, I figured I should get to the store in case I didn't get out until Sunday or after. I've been told the store is a mile and a half from where I live. I'm not sure it's quite that. I could check, but who cares. It's at least a mile.
Because I live in borderline-Bumpkin-ville, there's either no sidewalks or else bad sidewalks. Yesterday it didn't help that there was some snow, some ice, some puddles, and whatever else there was for a person who wants to be careful about how she moves an "iffy" leg (and a person who would really rather not get her shoes wet on such a cold day). So, on the nice sunny afternoon I quickly walked on the little street where the speed limit is 25, where nobody drives that slowly, and where there aren't sidewalks. Then I turned up the more "main-ish" street that has the iffy sidewalk, and quickly walked on the side that has no sidewalk at all. It's so much better, now that sunset isn't until a little after five p.m. With the cold weather it's been tricky to wait long enough to have the warmest part of the day, and yet not go out so late that I'm returning once it's dark (and super cold because the sun is gone).
So yesterday I was happy to get to the store while it was still light out, get a cup of coffee to bring for the walk back, and head back before it got dark. True, I'd really planned to leave at 3:00 p.m and hadn't left until, I think, 3:20; but I figured it wouldn't take me two hours to make the round trip. I wasn't going to hang around at the store.
My own street had lots of puddles to step around. So did that 25 mph side street without sidewalks. It was slow going until I got to the "main-ish" street, but then I was speedy. The sun was still "there" when I was at the store, but it had gone down. The sky had some stringy pink clouds, though; so it was at least that light. Of course, when all that's left is essentially a white sky and maybe a few pink clouds, we all know the sun and daylight drop out of sight like a stone, and quickly. It was light, but it was dusk-ish enough that I didn't want to walk down the non-sidewalk side of the street (particularly with evening/dinner-time traffic at its height). I always have a flashlight, but - really - one needs to be facing the traffic on that street. That meant, of course, making my way down that puddle/snowbank/ice/other-muck sidewalk; which also meant dealing with huge stretches of ice and/or puddles that needed to be negotiated at street corners and some driveways.
The whole navigation "deal" was slow, which meant that it wasn't long before it was out-and-out dark. I tried walking in the street and using my flashlight to let people sort of see me, but I also needed that to see the ground and avoid any ice. The last thing I want to do is injure that leg I've been working on for so long (five years) (and the other one that wasn't as badly injured but is now just about good as new after two years). So, the walk back was miserable and slow, not to mention feeling kind of death-defying for one reason or another. I started to feel/hear something rattling in my coffee and realized it was starting to freeze. LOL (Sure, I can "LOL" now.)
I never look forward to getting from that "main-ish" street to my own street (a quiet, traffic-free, street) because that means the "25 mph" street, and in the dark that street always feels like one is likely to be killed. Because I know the street, however, I know how to navigate it as safely as possible, being careful to always know where I can jump off to the side if a car comes to close. There a curve where the two "problem" streets meet, and usually I wait out most cars that come bombing around that curve. I'm always ready to go on the lawn or driveway of the people who live there (I know them).
Last evening, however, it turned out that all the day's water had frozen or was starting to freeze. That meant that whole, giant, areas of ice had formed/re-formed. Those areas were so huge there was no way I could quickly jump on someone's lawn. (Oopsie. I hadn't planned on this "horror".)
So, as the evening traffic kept bombing around that corner, there I stood on a patch of some kind of pine needles and dried grass, waiting for the traffic to thin out long enough for me to navigate some of the giant areas of ice, just to get past that corner. My coffee continued to rattle. My toes were cold (because I hadn't worn my boots, mainly because I didn't want a new heel height or sole thickness for the leg to have to adjust to - but also because sometimes a person just doesn't feel like a simple walk on a sunny day ought to feel like a big deal). If there's one thing I kind of like about myself (usually) (and believe me, there's a whole lot about myself I don't like), it's that I've managed to keep the "good sense" of, say, a fourteen-year-old girl who refuses to wear hats or button her coat in Winter, and who avoids boots at most costs. Oh, the other related thing I kind of like about myself is that I'm not above going out without drying my hair after a shower. (Never in my life have I ever gotten a cold from doing that, by the way. And, for some twisted reason it does make me feel young and like a stupid kid, which may or may not be stupid of me.)
Anyway, eventually there was a break in the traffic, and I eventually made my way to my own street, which had its own issues. By then all those giant puddles of earlier had made huge stretches of my own street one, big, dark, "skating rink". That was "fine". (Not really, of course, I just said that.) I had my flashlight. Eventually, I got to my own driveway which, in itself, kind of "wins the prize" as far as lumpy, re-formed, ice goes (particularly with this most recent stretch of melting and re-freezing). It was 6:30.
In any case, rattling coffee in hand, I got myself and my frozen toes up the stairs and into the house (where I immediately zapped the coffee in the microwave). The toes were pretty uncomfortable as they gradually warmed up, but I realized that, maybe, for the first time since the leg injuries neither of those injuries were "screaming" at me because of the cold. I don't know when that particular bit of progress happened, but up until relatively recently the "big" injury would scream at me when I walked past the dairy counter at the grocery store.
And so, as my toes got back to normal, I settled in with what was left of my medium coffee, watched the Thursday night sitcoms, fell asleep before the 10:00 p.m. drama ever came on and slept right through until morning. (Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say that I "passed out", I suppose. Let's just say that I got a really good night's sleep after all that sun and fresh air. Yes - let's just say that.)
Next time I'll make sure I leave ten minutes earlier (although, of course, as each week passes the sun will be setting that much later). The main thing is that I discovered that "The Leg" (as I've come to think of it) wasn't the least bit bothered by the cold - and that, to me, made the whole "horror" well worth it. (I sure wish there were a way for me to add an eye-rolling emoticon about here.)