The nights are still nose-numbingly cold and unscented. And mostly quiet, except for the sound of traffic and the wind making an eerie noise as it blows through the bare tree limbs. Nobody can blame the crickets for choosing to sit this one out.
The best part of those nights? Getting finished and getting back inside.
Then, there are nights like last night. Snowy nights. Nights when the flakes are coming down so hard that you feel like you’re inside a giant snow globe that has been shaken side-to-side.
Nights when being outside is simply magical.
I love jogging in the snow. I did a lot of it when I was growing up in Cleveland, where the flurries seem to start in October and go 24/7 through May.
One of the coolest parts: Every step that you take is softened by the layer of white padding the ground. And every step makes a deep and pleasing CRUNCH! I love that sound.
Not only that, but every crunchy step leaves a footprint.
You get to leave your personal mark on the snowy world.
It’s always a good reminder for me about how each of us leaves a mark, whether it’s snowing or not. It’s so easy to get caught up in our heads and not even recognize what we’re doing each step of the way. We’re often unaware of how we touch so many people and so many places every day.
We’re always leaving some kind of imprint. That’s what life is about.
Every breath sends our personal carbon dioxide into the air, changing our environment a little bit. Every encounter with another person affects them in some way. We’re always leaving some kind of footprint — sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse.
One of the interesting things about jogging in the snow is that you see many other footprints as well. People who have taken the same path for a time. Maybe they were coming home from work, going to the store, visiting a neighbor, or just out for a walk.
Every set of footprints is a bit different. Different shoe size, different type of stride, different sole, different direction. Every imprint is unique, a reflection of the person who made it. Sometimes, you’ll see a scrape in the snow where someone slipped and fell, then got up and started walking again.
One other thing about footprints in the snow: You never see just one set. I’m always amazed that even in the worst weather, there are many others out there, too.
Even in the harshest storm, you’re never alone. Others are out there, too. Maybe they’re enjoying it, maybe they’re cursing it. Maybe they’re out there in the storm by choice, or maybe it’s because they had no other choice.
But either way, they’re there. With you.
It’s good to look down and get that reminder. Also, to look back and see the tracks we’ve left behind, foot-shaped reminders that we’re always having some type of impact.
And with each crunchy step, to recognize the one who brings us the beautiful snow. And who invites us to make a unique imprint in some joyful way.