After the shock of unseasonably cold weather last week, I welcomed the lovely, almost balmy 44 degree Fahrenheit temperature this morning. Of course, my experience of the morning temperature is never completely accurate as I am already good and warm from showering, blow drying my hair and running around the apartment getting ready for work. The first moment outdoors feels heavenly. And this morning was no different. There was even a bit of blue sky and sunshine this morning, which always makes things more cheery, especially for a Monday. As I rode around the curve by Stadshuset (cityhall), a rustling breeze scattered a bunch of crisp gold and burnt honey-colored leaves across my path. It felt so typical of fall.
I used to love fall in Texas when it was very nearly winter and there were still a great many leaves on the trees. There would come, several nights, big gusty winds that would rake the remaining leaves from the trees and for a week or two afterward, before the street sweepers came, there would be a sea of leaves to wade through as we walked down the street. One of my very favorite fall pastimes is walking along the street gutters and crunching the dry crisp leaves under my feet. I absolutely love the sound as my shoe crushes them into the pavement. Almost like eating potato chips, but a lot less calories.
The difference between my morning ride to work and my evening ride home can be described quite easily. Imagine yourself on your bike, riding through the longest walk-in freezer you've ever seen and then make it even colder, add hills and turn the lights out. And that is my evening commute and the Sweden winter in a nutshell. As I stepped outside this evening to head home after work the air met me, as soon as I opened the outside door, with a smack right across the face. My immediate reaction was, "What the heck was I thinking riding to work this morning?" The temperature difference after sitting quietly at my desk is quite jarring. By now however I know that it's just the initial part of the ride that is so cold. After about ten minutes I start to warm up and am glad once again to be on my bike instead of the subway or bus.
And that's the thing, no matter how cold it is outside, it nearly always beats being stuffed onto an overfull subway car or bus with a mixture of those heading out for the night, wearing a bottle of cologne or perfume, and others just back from the gym or so it seems. Give me fresh cold freeze-your-arse-off air any day. I may eat those words soon when the temperatures dip back down below freezing. But we'll re-approach this topic at that time. Even with it being so cold, and by the way my hands never did warm up, I still enjoyed my evening ride home. On one of my favorite parts of the ride where the bike path curves away from the streets and for a brief moment travels closely along the water, I met the most beautiful white swan. Unfortunately I was only able to take a photo with my mind but take my word for it, she was breathtaking. Things like that make suffering through the cold all the more worth it. And as I told my husband later, if you can't beat 'em (those tough, weather bearing Swedes), join 'em.