There is nearly seven feet of snow outside. Seven. Feet. Of. Snow. Which means my car hasn’t moved since the ceaseless cycle of snow storms welcomed me to Boston three weeks ago with wintry arms.
Turn on the TV, catch a glimpse of anyone tasked with managing Mother Nature’s present ire, and your heart just aches: the overtaxed plow drivers, the bleary-eyed mayor, the normally chirpy meteorologist tearing up as his projected forecast hits the screen, and the Lord-have-mercy-on-them-T-riders getting stuck at every stop. One reporter recently described the current state of getting around by car best: “short simple commutes have turned into odysseys.”
So unless I’m prepared to duke it out with another driver fighting for right-of-way on local streets that have turned into narrow white canyons, I’m not driving anywhere. This Seattle-born driver won’t win a Boston street battle. Ever. And that’s just fine. Because underneath the layers of snow, ice, salt, dirt, dog pee and local denizens’ tears I’ve found a silver lining – and it resides within my heavy snow boots.
I get to walk. Everywhere. And that is just awesome.
Because prior to relocating to this uber-high walk score town from a distant suburb of Philadelphia, I drove. Everywhere. And that wasn’t so awesome: Out of bananas? Get in the car or wait til June for my local Farmers Market to ramp up again. Yoga somewhere other than my living room? Minimum 30-minute drive on a good day. Hour-plus drive if just one yahoo texts on the Turnpike and causes an accident. I drove. And drove. And even developed a nagging ache in my right hamstring from too much contact with the gas pedal.
Since landing here, however, I’ve walked. And noticed some pretty cool benefits in the process:
My inner ballerina is coming out. Tiptoeing on an uneven, 6″ wide icy surface in heavy boots is forcing me to recruit several core muscles that lied dormant in my drive-everywhere days. Tree pose in yoga is now a breeze. Dancer pose on a hot studio floor now brings with it a massive sense of joy and gratitude of being able to fully express myself on steady floor with improved balance.
I’m saving at the grocery store and more. You want it? Gotta schlep it! Hikes to the grocery store are making me think twice about that giant box of granola or out-of-season-but oh-so-tasty melon or bag of grapes (alas, the gourmet dark chocolate with sea salt bar takes up no space at all in my backpack, but what the hell…) I’m saving on clothes too. Single-digit temperatures mean absolutely no one gives a rip about my wardrobe. We are all flaunting our second-hand flannels and pilled-to-the-edges Target sweaters with a Boston sense of function-over-fashion pride.
I’m getting strong. While the car hasn’t moved, my little CRV hasn’t let me off the hook entirely. Each morning, in single-digit temps, it lures me over, testing my will: “let’s see if you can dig me out this time, sister!” I’ve discovered a shovel and a pile of snow will trump a lat pull-down machine and gym membership any damn day.
I’m connecting to others. I no longer see human beings during my commutes through a windshield. Lacing up my boots and walking to my new favorite coffee shop, bookstore, or local yoga studio gives me the opportunity to make eye contact and smile at others. And while more than a few walk right past purposefully without flinching, a new yogi pal I met at the studio put out her hand and insisted, “I am here to dispel the myth that all New Englanders are cold!!”
And I believe her. I truly do. Even if we are all freezing our asses off right now. So strap on your boots and go for a walk.