My car glides through the light covering of fresh snow on the surface of the parking lot and comes to a halt at the entrance to the park.
It is early in the morning and normally it would be quiet here, but Lindsay, on the back seat, hasn't been for a run in several days and is beside her self with delight. Alternately whining and barking, she is prancing back and forth on the seat waiting to be let out.
Taxol hasn't run through its kit bag of chemo side effects yet. Two days ago I was shivering, couldn't get warm no matter how many blankets I huddled under, and my joints felt like knives were being pushed into them. Yesterday those same joints were stiff and I was flattened by an enormous sense of fatigue. Today the tips of my fingers and the bottoms of my feet are aching.
But I have much of my strength back. And I'm as desperate to get out for a run in the woods as Lindsay is.
I open my door and crawl out of the car. Then open the back door. Lindsay waits with wiggling impatience for permission to jump out.
"Okay, Lins, lets go," I say and she leaps out into the snow covered parking lot. Then comes to a halt. Tail raised and stiff legged, she surveys the area for danger before I tug on her leash and we head off down the forest pathway.
After a while the pain in my feet feels no worse than walking barefooted on gravel. My body adjusts its tolerance level and we begin to make time.
There isn't a lot of snow and the forecast for today is for a light rain that might wash it all away. But Toronto has had so little snow this winter that even this mean whiteness is transformative.
Lindsay is beside herself, her nose to the ground, tail wagging, her feet a blur of motion. She runs off down the trail, then turns and runs back circling my legs in a kind of thank-you before heading off down the trail again.
She has a lot of energy to burn off and so do I. But it takes me a while to begin to realize just how much energy I have to burn. How necessary this walk was for me.
I had looked at this as a treat for her and a sacrifice for me. But I was wrong. Despite the pain in my feet, I can feel tight muscles beginning to loosen, tensions beginning to let go. It is an agony of relief.
And then we come to edge of the Scarborough Bluffs and suddenly the vast blue expanse of Lake Ontario stretches out to the horizon and beyond and the absolute beauty of the day is like a body blow that nearly knocks me off my feet. I grasp the trunk of a nearby tree for support as Lindsay and I look out across the lake and breath in the cool winter air.
I'm not sure how long we stood there before I turned and headed back to my world, its troubles and demands no longer seeming as forbidding.
Lindsay dancing with delight as she runs on ahead of me.
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