A hard frost covers the lawn. The sky is still dark but almost cloudless and a full moon shines brightly from the west. The thermometer on the front porch dutifully tells me the news. 19 degrees.
I lean slightly forward and break into a run. Down the driveway and onto the road my moon shadow cheerfully leads me through my both dark and bright neighborhood. Turning towards the highway, the moon swings to my right and for the next couple of miles occasionally peeks through the trees to check my progress. Each cloudy breath, sometimes glowing brightly in the headlights of a passing car, disappears behind me after depositing the slightest layer of ice on my beard and mustache. After two miles I have to unzip my jacket a little so I don't get too warm. 19 degrees.
Running through a grassy section, the normally bouncy green now collapses under each footfall in a frozen crunch with the effect of making the spring in my step null and void. Rather than waste the effort, I divert back onto the asphalt. About a half-mile past the city limit sign I transfer over to the sidewalk. A steady, orange “Don't Walk” temporarily halts my progress and I take my glasses off so the vapor coming off of me doesn't fog them during my standstill. 19 degrees.
I'm a little over halfway to my destination and my cadence remains steady. The thup-thup-thup of my shoes landing three times every second count out 180 steps a minute for the nine-mile trip. The glow to my left signals the anticipated morning sun and the moon races downward as if to avoid being seen in the light of day. I pass the time by daydreaming or playing a favorite song in my head. but I still keep an eye out for cars at every intersection. One driver sees my frosted face and shakes her head. 19 degrees.
My winter gloves feel like weights now. My hands are warm, so much so that their perspiration collects and soaks their captors. Not content with abusing them from the inside, I use my gloves to brush away the temperature-induced drainage from my nose. It barely takes a minute for the freeze-dried mucus to crackle. I give it a slight brush with the other glove and the flakes fall away. Between enticements for my patronage a sign I pass by flashes the time and temperature. 19 degrees.
I arrive at work after leaving between 13,000 and 14,000 steps behind me. I pull my soaking wet stocking cap off to find the outside is covered in ice crystals. A hard shake flings liquid and frozen sweat onto the sidewalk. The moment I step inside the ice on my whiskers melts away and I catch it before it drips. I shower and dress and make a cup of tea. Looking out the window I see the moon tardily diving for the horizon in full light of the sun. My coworkers arrive and make customary conversation about the weather. One of them asks, “Do you know how cold it was this morning?”
“Yes,” I answer. “19 degrees.”
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