I walked to work yesterday morning. Early. I headed out around 5:20 AM. Walking in the darkness along sidewalks covered in about an inch of fresh fallen snow, my feet left long furrows as I couldn’t summon the energy to quite lift my feet above the new powder.
There’s something heavily insulated about that time of day, when the sun is still a couple of hours from joining you in wakefulness. The feeling of impressed solitude is further amplified by the new snow, which has always given me a feeling of being muffled or dampened.
Walking along as I was I saw another such traveler ahead of me about a block, his hands shoved very firmly into his pockets, and shoulders rolled forward as if to allow the cold to roll off them more easily. At the pace I had set (concerned with being late on my second day) I was covering ground quickly and closing the gap between us rapidly. I got no more than 4 feet behind him when he looked over his shoulder for the first time.
I said, “Morning,” and that must have disrupted his early morning reverie. He didn’t say a word, but looked quite startled, and double his pace. As he sped away at a brisk walk I felt bad for disturbing him so, for interrupting his communion with the preamble to the day, but I was also relieved because I was able to return inward to my own selfish process of dawning wakefulness.