It’s harder to take morning power walks along the Chicago lakefront in winter, but it’s worth the trip. If it’s been snowing a lot, I spend a morning or two on the treadmill at the World Gym, to give the Park District time to plow the bicycle path where I walk. If it’s below 10oF, I use the treadmill to protect myself from frostbite.
After it’s stopped snowing for a day or two, or after the temperature has risen into the teens, I pull on my long johns and bundle up in a parka. Off I go at about 6:00 AM, thrilled to be outdoors and heading for the lakefront park after missing it for a few days.
The winter temperatures give a crystal clarity to the air, and the white snow glows with reflected light. The bare trees are black and graceful against the snow. The stage is set for the sky show.
Over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve arrived at the park, Venus has greeted me from high up in the eastern sky, a shining white crescent. When the moon is also in the east, the two make a brilliant pair, showing no sign of the vast distance that separates them. Both are wonderful to see in the deep blue sky—even though, were we there, the moon would actually be dim, gray, and cratered—even though, were we there, Venus would be a hellish, roasting hot planet, so hot, water is all vapor and the planet is dark as night under such perpetual cloud cover.
So I walk along, breathing in the cold, fresh air, glorying in the shining sight of Venus and the Moon above the black trees and white snow. Beyond the snow, a ribbon of dark, shiny lake ripples at the horizon. And here comes the Sun, evident so far only in a growing pink-orange-rust glow over the water. Sometimes there are purple clouds between the rosy pre-dawn and the water, sometimes it’s just the pre-dawn rosiness.
Taking in this glorious scene of land, lake, sky, universe, I offer up a prayer of gratitude.