Yesterday I gave in.
I rang work to say that I couldn’t make it to the bus stop (one mile away up an icy hill) because of the weather.
In January 2003, I put my books to one side (I was doing a masters degree at the time), donned my walking boots and headed out of the front door to go for a twenty mile circular walk across the snowy moors.
I was pondering my future at the time, so I was in limbo as far as starting a family, or gaining proper post-graduate employment was concerned. My most immediate worries were house-hunting, coursework and finalising a dissertation topic.
My feet had instintively led me along a route I had planned on the map and imagined in my head numerous times as I had lain in bed at night.
I spent a happy day winding through local farms, along lanes that linked nowhere with nowhere, through copses, across the moors, past prehistoric barrows and back via a middle-of-nowhere pub.
I remember one particularly cool moment dangling my feet over a gritstone edge, watching the sun breaking on distant snow (see picture) while exchanging texts with a friend in her central London office.
I made it back as dusk was setting in, the fiery sun anchored to the horizon, mirroring my rosy-cheeks, satisfied and happy with the exercise-induced endorphins doing their thing.
I felt rather wistful watching the thaw setting in, dripping the branches and slushing the roads.
“That’ll be the last time I ever do that,” I muttered, quietly resolving to prove myself wrong.
Since then, a few milestones have been passed: I (post-)graduated, got married, found a job, bought a house, had two kids, lost my mother, extended my house, found a better job…
…got diagnosed with MS.
All this time, I have held onto the thought that one day, one distant crisp white snow day, I would do it all again. I would brush off my walking boots, wonder at the previous walk that had caked the mud into the soles, layer up, pull on the pack full of the day’s essentials (map, sandwiches, hip flask), and set off again across my beloved Derbyshire countryside.
Yesterday I couldn’t even get out of town.
Halfway up the local hill, the snow and ice got the better of me. Oscillopsia set in and my legs felt like lead.
Phoning into work felt like I had given up, like I had lost a key battle. For the rest of the day my legs and feet nagged at me in the cruellest way possible by feeling like they actually had walked twenty miles, but without the endorphins to show for it.
Still, I’m the optimistic type.
Part of me knows there are other factors involved – I had worn myself out after abandoning my car to the snow the day before. I had also walked, with a sledge in tow, the four and a bit miles – there and back – to pick up my kids (actually, I cheated and we caught a bus some of the way back).
I may have lost this battle, and I know that ultimately I will lose the war (how heavily or lightly remains to be seen), but there are other battles.
I am resolving again that when the kids are a bit older and I have the spare time, I’ll be taken with the urge and I will head out again across those hills.
I’m planning it now.