January and February are usually the coldest months here in Iowa. It is too cold to run outside, at least for most people. The last time I went out to run was back in December, and it was actually Christmas Day as we had a spring time weather that time.
But today is different. By the way, it is 02 02 2020, how neat is that? Even though it is February, our temperature is above freezing (40º F), which is unusual for this time of year for us.
So I decided to go out for a run.
It is a sunny day and our big pile of snow is starting to melt. It may take several days of “warm” days like this to melt them all down though.
Then I met some flocks of wild geese. They usually fly south for the winter, but I am seeing more and more of them staying here in our place even for the winter months.
These geese are equipt for the cold anyway, as they have down feathers which we even use to insulate our jackets. In fact goose down jackets are one of the warmest jackets you can get and has the advantage of being lightweight. But I know they can be expensive.
Here’s more geese coming for a landing.
There is more cold weather forecasted for this coming week, and we will be back to subfreezing temperature, and more snow as well. But for a day, I enjoyed going outside with the wild geese.
Last Friday, I drove to our new satellite clinic. This was the most distant one so far compared to our other outreach clinics, as it takes an hour and 40 minutes to get there from our main office. I go to an outreach clinic at least once a month.
It was a very cold day for a drive. The outside temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -20 degrees. The wind was brisk and it was blowing the snow that was already plowed to the sides of the road back into the road.
The whole surrounding was white as we had fresh snow that had fallen the past couple of days. There was also a shiny glaze on the branches of the bare trees as in addition to the snowfall, it was preceded by a freezing rain that coated everything with ice, including the roads, which layered underneath the snow. This made the travel more dangerous.
In fact one of my partners cancelled his trip to another one of our outreach clinics a day before mine, due to the snow, sleet and ice.
But on the day of my travel, though it was very cold, it was sunny. Thus I decided to press on. Besides, there were many patients that were waiting and expecting to be seen. Plus, I felt confident in my driving and in my trusty vehicle.
I felt warm though while I was cruising along the wintry rural highways of Iowa. My favorite feature of my car on a very cold day like this was the heated seats along with the reliable heater. In some countries, like in the Philippines, a car airconditioner may be a luxury to keep you cool on a hot day. But where I live now, we can survive without an AC but not without a heater. It is a necessity or we’ll freeze to death.
But there was something more that was keeping me warm besides the heater, the heated seat, and the heated steering wheel. It was the warm thoughts and happy memories of a tropical place I still call home.
Playing on my car radio was streaming music sync from my iPhone from an on-line radio station. What was the radio station I was listening to? Pagudpud Beach Resort Radio Station! (Pagudpud is a place in Ilocos Norte, Philippines with a year round temperature of 70 to 90ºF.)
I could almost hear the lapping waves as they break into the sandy shore and the rushing breeze bristling through the palm trees. A stark contrast from the view of a slew of ice and snow surrounding me. They say that you could take away the boy from the island, but could never take away the island from the boy.
It’s true, I was feeling homesick. It has been three years since I last visited my motherland. Perhaps it is time for a journey back to that very familiar place.
I know I’m not the only one missing home. Most of us, in one way or another, have wandered away and left our comfort zones in pursuit of a dream. And many times in our quest, the path we crossed was not easy, for it was uncertain and unfamiliar.
I was deep in this thought when a familiar song played on the radio:
Hindi kita iiwan sa paglalakbay,
Dito sa mundong walang katiyakan,
Di kita bibitiwan sa paglalakbay,
Sa mundo ng kawalan.
That was all I needed to hear, a reassurance that we are not alone in this journey.
I glanced at my car’s GPS. It indicated that I still have 70 miles to go, and an hour more before I reach my destination.
Well, I still have an hour to enjoy this “beach.”
(*lyrics from Hawak Kamay a song by Yeng Constantino)
Yesterday, while sitting in my car when I was parked at the hospital’s parking lot that I took this photo of my dashboard.
The outside temperature was -18ºF (-28ºC)! No wonder I was really cold. But at least it was sunny and it was already warming up. It was -26º F before the sun rose. The wind chill though made it feels like -40º F.
It was dangerously cold that most schools including colleges here in Iowa was closed yesterday. Even the postal service was shut down. Of course hospitals stayed open and I still had to go to work.
Do you know where else had -20º F yesterday? At the South Pole in Antarctica. North Pole was a balmy 5º F!
I should be on the look out for penguins that may be crossing my path anytime soon.
It’s been two months since I ran the half-marathon for this year. But I am proud to say that I have not yet relented on my running for this season. Emphasis on the “yet.” Maybe I just want to stay trim for Christmas. Maybe I want to look good on my vacation photos. Whatever the reason is, I am still running even if it’s already winter here in our part of the world.
But hopping on a treadmill and running for a mile or two in place is really boring. Even running inside an indoor track in our local Y can be dull and uninspiring. So when I saw that the temperature outside this morning was 30º F instead of our usual single digits or teens, I cannot resist to run outside. Besides, there was no snow on the ground and more importantly, no ice. I can run on snow, but not ice (see older post).
When I got out in our front yard, I saw ice! But it was just in our bird bath, which was frozen solid (photo above). The sun was shining though, so it’s a wonderful day to be outside.
As I approached the pond in our housing community, I again noticed that the water was frozen.
Should I try running on ice? Or perhaps put on a pair of ice skates and glide my way through?
Then I heard some honking. When I looked up I saw a flock of geese.
They seems to be egging me on – “Run on ice! Run on ice!”
The temperature however was not in the deep freeze. I am not that foolish yet. Again, emphasis on the yet. So no running on thin ice!
As I kept on trucking, I was looking for my deer friends, but they were nowhere to be found. Have they gone some place warmer?
Instead I saw some polar creatures. A penguin and a polar bear! You don’t believe me?
Here they are:
The pengunin and the polar bear seems to be lost in place without the snow. Perhaps like my son they were praying for snow. Lots and lots of it. But for me, I’ll enjoy this relatively warm day without the snow and ice.
Overall, it was a decent day for a morning run.
After about an hour outside, I came back in and warm myself with the leftover arroz caldo my wife cooked yesterday.
Again, I have my app to document my “cool running.”