Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Chilly, Heart-warming Valentine's Day

Keith and I have never been big on celebrating Valentine's Day. I'd like to think it's because we make an effort to tell each other all the time how much we mean to each other .... but it could also possibly be because we're lazy and/or cheap. Either way, Valentine's Day has long since fallen off the radar.

Except, of course, now that we're busy working parents, it's a lot harder to spend time together. So this year, it felt like a good excuse to hang out for a few hours. I've been even worse than usual, in 2010, about scheduling our weekends full of "to-do list" items and leaving no downtime.

We got a babysitter for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I thought of a few different potential activities and ran them by Keith. They ranged from very physical (hiking) to very non-physical (going to a movie) and in-between (ice-skating or going to a museum). I wasn't sure what Keith would want to do, since he ran 18 miles that morning, but even so it didn't really surprise me when he jumped at a chance to go hiking in the snow.

First, of course, we swung by Penn Station for some delicious, hot, greasy subs. Thereby fortified, we headed out into the great white wilderness. (Otherwise known as a local park.)

I'm trying to remember the last time I saw the ground. It's been pretty snowy here for quite some time. There was a ton of snow .... and it finally all melted for a day or so, and then it snowed again. For the past few weeks, it's just been fresh snow on top of old snow. It was snowing on Saturday, when we were hiking, and it's snowing right now. We're getting to the point where it's hard to shovel because there's nowhere to throw the snow. Ah, Cleveland winters!

I wasn't really sure how I would do with a snowy winter hike. I had suggested it because I thought Keith would enjoy it, but as I've mentioned previously, I'm always cold and longing to be warmer. But maybe it would be better on a hike because I'm expecting to be cold? Unlike sitting on the couch in the living room, when I would hope to be a little more comfortable.

And I did do better than I expected with embracing the cold. It was in the upper 20s/lower 30s, which is as balmy as one can get on a snow hike. We were pretty well bundled up. Every once in a while, a chilly gust of wind would cut through me, but for the most part, especially once we started hiking, I was fine.

One thing we had failed to take into account for a snow hike is how hard it was to find—and stick to—the trail. We had never been to the North Chagrin Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks before, so we hadn't seen any of the trails before. Once we arrived at the park we only had an hour to hike, and wasted the first 15 minutes or so wandering around, trying to figure out if we were on the trail or not. At one point, we were walking on the frozen edges of the Chagrin River, without realizing it. As soon as Keith noticed the running water nearby, we headed back up and away from potential ice disaster.

It was a lovely, peaceful, relaxing afternoon. Sometimes we talked, but mostly we just hiked and enjoyed looking at the winter beauty of nature. I kept thinking how much Eleanor would enjoy it; however, I probably also would have fallen off the trail and rolled into the river if I were trying to carry her and hike at the same time. So maybe next year, when she can walk better in the snow, we'll go back as a family.

I'm glad we made the effort to do something for Valentine's Day. I'm sorry it was such an effort, on my part, to stop trying to get things done and just enjoy hanging out. I hope we do it again soon.

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