By: Greg Z
A rare winter storm in southeastern North Carolina left the area enveloped in ice Wednesday morning. For me as a runner, any kind of abnormality in the weather is a stimulus to get me out the door, and into Mother Nature's fold.
I was surprised when I entered the Carolina Beach State Park. There was so much ice covering the trees, and conditions didn't seem nearly as bad in town. Numerous smaller trees were bent across the trails from the weight of ice on them, creating an almost tunnel like course in sections of the park.
But when I got into a bit of clearing in the woods I was able to behold the beauty of what the storm had produced. The tall straight pines, the young saplings, the small bushy trees that grow in the marshes, the bare deciduous trees, the clumpy swamp grasses...were all covered in a layer of whitish, gray ice...as if one shook up a snow globe and let the contents ever-so-softy land on top of what lay beneath.
I felt like I was witnessing something rarely seen – an artist's rendering left out in the open, for us mere mortals to be momentarily immersed in its grandeur. I looked with child-like awe every which way as I made my way back into the woods.
On the trail spur by the Cape Fear River I heard a seemingly desperate squawking as an egret took flight from the marsh and circled past me and out over the river before returning back to land. I took notice that the reeds were coated in ice as well, and looked like thousands of ice picks frozen into the ground. I would be disturbed too, I thought, and I felt empathy for the large bird as I carefully crossed an icy, wooden foot bridge.
Later in the run the sun began to poke through the thick ceiling of smoky gray clouds. As it did the ice started to melt, and fall! Rounding a bend on a trail, I heard a loud cracking snap, as a huge pine branch snapped off and crashed thru the surrounding trees onto the forest floor. Time to get out of here I said to myself.
This is ultimately why I run. And why I continue to run. To be a visceral part of days such as yesterday. To witness firsthand.