Running on ice

2013 03 25

I like running in the city, on straight, wide avenues with a little traffic and a few trees; staccato buildings, maybe red and beige, on the sides. I like hearing the sounds of things happening, of other people moving. I like measuring my progress by the block. I like resting my eyes at the three-meter distance and concentrating on the grooves in the sidewalk, or the gravel along the edge.

Running on reasonably-sized street puts you in the best space in the city. You’re a part of the fabric of the place: slow enough to breathe it in, fast enough to be an invisible part of it, if you choose. It’s satisfying without being complicated.

Right now it’s difficult to run. The sidewalks are treacherous. If they’re well-walked, or on the sunny side of the street, in front of popular stores, you can get along. But the bits in the shade, in front of abandoned squats or along construction fences, can be lumpy sheets of ice. If you’re lucky, there’s a layer of tractable snow on top, or some gravel. If you’re not, it’s hard-pack white; even the dogs avoid it instinctively. To walk on it I have to do this exaggerated bouncy maneuver, shifting my weight carefully, vertically up and down. At least in snow you get to hear a crunch, feel a softness. The ice is complicated without being satisfying.