Walking in the rain

A lot has changed in the last year for us. I’m thinking that there are a lot of people who have a similar reaction on the first day of February, 2020. One year ago, most of us had no knowledge of Covid-19. We certainly didn’t know what an impact it would have on our lives, on the economy of the world, and the devastating toll it would take in our country. We couldn’t yet imagine the restrictions on travel, daily wearing of face masks, the quest for effective vaccines or the problems with the distribution of those vaccines. One year ago, I couldn’t imagine that churches would make a sudden shift from in-person to online worship.

One year ago our attention was pretty sharply focused on Susan’s health. After a frightening and life-changing cardiac event and a nearly fatal reaction to some of the drugs used to treat her condition, we were struggling to regain full health and strength. Even though it was a busy time for us as we prepared for the beginning of Lent, we made sure that we set aside at least a half hour each day for walking. The streets were often slippery in early February in Rapid City and we were learning where we might walk where snow removal had taken place and we could get traction. Many days we walked downtown where businesses were diligent in keeping sidewalks clear. We also learned that the walkways in the city parks were often clear when walking through the neighborhoods posed a bigger challenge. Many days we walked during our lunch hour, walking for 15 minutes or so, then taking a break to eat our lunch and following up with another 15 minutes.

Now, a year later, walking has become a part of our routine. Going for a half hour walk doesn’t require any change in our routine. Most days we walk at least 45 minutes and some days we walk for more than an hour. A year ago, we thought than a one mile walk was a reasonable goal. These days we almost always walk more than two and often walk more than three miles.

Another big change, though probably not on the scale of the changes brought about by a pandemic, is that we live in a totally different place with a totally different climate. We haven’t been selecting the place for our walks based on snow removal and our need to avoid icy conditions. We are, however, getting pretty good at learning where the big mud puddles form and how to avoid saturated ground that gets us covered in mud.

We both have good rain jackets and we have waterproof walking shoes. Those are essential in the place where we now live. We’ve learned, like many locals here, that umbrellas usually aren’t worth the hassle and there is no substitute for a good rain jacket. We’ve also learned to look at the forecast for the day and the clouds in the sky to choose a time to walk between rain showers.

Some days, however, there is no in-between when it comes to the rain. Yesterday it simply rained all day long. We were engage with church and annual meetings in the morning, so we went walking in the afternoon. It rained all the time we were walking. We walked a big loop from our home, over to a park with a boardwalk through a wetlands area, around that part, down to the hospital, back by the Catholic church and up the hill north of our house before circling back to our driveway. My head stayed dry under the hood of my jacket. My feet stayed dry in my waterproof shoes. From the waist to my ankles, however, I got soaked. I came in from my walk and changed into dry pants. Even my underwear was soaked.

I have a pair of rain pants. I think I may have worn them once or twice. It looks like I’ll be wearing them today when we go for our walk. The forecast is calling for a 90% chance of rain all day long. In fact it looks like Wednesday may be the only day in the week to come when we will be walking when it isn’t raining.

There is no news in the fact that it is raining here. People expect it. It happens every February. Although the locals are aware that this part of the country has a reputation for rain, they feel pretty smug because it isn’t snowing. Not far from our home, in the mountains, there is plenty of snow and more on the way. And the storm that is bearing down on the northeastern part of the United States is making headlines. New York and Boston are bracing for 20 inches of snow and 50 mph winds today. They have declared a state of emergency in New York City. Schools will be closed, coronavirus vaccinations are being re-scheduled, airlines are cancelling flights. The mayor of New York City has issued a stay at home order. The storm, which dropped snow in the mountains of the west last week has intensified as it traveled across the country.

Meanwhile, it is February and I haven’t taken my insulated coveralls out of the closet since we moved into this house. My parka is hanging right next to them, unused since last winter. Well, that isn’t quite right. I did wear my parka on the last day of the last trip from South Dakota when we encountered a foot of snow in the mountains as we crossed the Cascades. We were through the snow before we reached our house. I hung up my parka and it has stayed in the closet. The snow shovel I insisted on bringing with us sits unused in the garage. It doesn’t look like it is going to bet much exercise this winter.

About 20 years ago, I bought an inexpensive pair of rain pants after getting wet during a rainstorm in Costa Rica. I saw them on sale and decided it would be good to have them for a future trip. They’ve been unused in my drawer ever since. I didn’t even take them on subsequent trips to Costa Rica. I’ll pull them on today. Who knows? They might get a lot of use this month.

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