Shiver (To Keep Myself Warm)

I stood in Central Park with Ethan and Chris this morning listening to the sound of winter turning to spring.

The trees were cracking to shed their icey blankets. The wind blew snow from their limbs. The hum of a thousand water droplets and tiny streams was everywhere. And I thought, ‘This is what spring sounds like.’

Today was a found day. That is, I’d expected to be running a half marathon. And I’d expected it to be painful based on my significant lack of preparation. But when I called Chris to say, “Meet you at the start,” he said, “Dude, the race is tomorrow morning.” And so, relieved, I pulled on jeans, a t-shirt and fleece jacket, and walked over to hang out with he and Ethan.

Ethan was still in his pajamas, quietly playing with a tape recorder, when I walked up beside him. He smiled, and continued playing, pushing stop, play, stop, play. We sang “Shortenin’ Bread” and “Nick Nack Paddy Wack,” rolled his toy busses across the hardwood floor, played piano (I tried to teach him “Ode To Joy”), I sang him “Froggy Went A Courtin’,” and ate breakfast. When Jen came home from her run, we wrestled Ethan into his winter coat, and struck out for Central Park. It took us over an hour to walk six blocks from 82d and Riverside to The Great Lawn because — and it made me smile just now thinking about it — Ethan had to climb every staircase, poke around every flower box, and splash every puddle in between.

He’s a neat kid. He’s completely oblivious to the city rushing past, and of all of the pedestrians who look down at him, singularly focused on, say, a pile of twigs, and smile. He makes me smile too, because he sees everything for the first time. Which is an enviable way to see the world.

For a minute there, he rubbed off on me. I’ve said it before: it’s been a long winter. But standing there, holding his mittened hand atop a pile of cedar chips listening to our little oasis of nature here in the big, bad city shake off it’s winter coat, I saw it for the first time too.

Of course, my date with 13.1 miles remains. Tomorrow at 8:30, Chris and I will meet and walk to the start on 72d Street. Two loops around Central Park later, God willing, I’ll have earned a half-stack of pancakes and a coupla’ eggs (over easy). I’ve spent most of the day preparing. I took two Ibuprofin to try and qwell the constant pain in my ankle. I drank plenty of water, ate well, and rested. I napped from 2-5. Ethan wore me out.

Hopefully my 13.1 mile morning will shake off some of my winter coat. I’m pretty sure it won’t sound like the natural symphony the park performed for us today. But there’ll be music.

I wrote “Shiver” in Nantucket a few summers ago. It’s ostensibly about a woman who lives somewhere in the great, wide-open spaces of the Midwest, and how she musters the strength and courage to leave a long loveless relationship. But for me, it’s a winter song. It’s about how we endure. Because we have to. This is a from the “February 25, 2005” CD. I remixed and remastered it tonight. To keep myself warm.

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