It’s almost noon and Archer should be here just about anytime now. I can’t believe how I’m dressed for a date! I look like a Siberian Refugee. I have layered until nothing else will go on. The only part of me that can possibly get cold is my feet. And quite frankly, those are cold most of the time anyway. I chill easily and it takes the longest time to defrost. As a child, (It seems silly to write that, because most days I still feel like that same child) I loved going tobogganing on the big hill behind the grade school. Every kid within walking distance (which was much farther in those days than it is now) would spend all day Saturday at “the hill.” Sliding down the hill at break-neck speed and trudging back up the hill like weighted down turtles. With heads popping out of the top of our snowsuits and scarves. Mittens would be frozen, complete with a million little snowballs dangling from the threads of the mittens. Our hands were just as frozen but we’d never admit it because that meant going home. And that just wasn’t gonna happen.
Archer listed on his profile that he loves to be outdoors and does a great deal of walking and hiking even in the winter. It seems that today is my interview so to speak. Checking out my muster if you will. I see it as a dare. And I can’t seem to back down from a dare. (Don’t tell anyone though because I’ll end up doing all sort of things I really don’t wanna do.) Now I’ve gotten myself into a completely unattractive and rather puffy fashion situation. All for a guy. I do the silliest things. But its too late now, so I’ll go with it. When Archer mentioned a Winter Hike I knew it would be a temperature challenge for my feet so in order to have some semblance of control in this situation I invited him to Lime Creek Nature Center for this hike. I’ve hiked here many times and it’s very relaxing to ramble through the woods on the various trails that they call ‘loops’. One loop can be added onto another and you can literally spend the whole day hiking and enjoying a picnic. The part of it that gives me some control is it’s familiarity. I know my way around, but I’ve never hiked it in the winter. Archer hasn’t been here at all before so there will be some newness/adventure for both of us today.
Archer arrived at my apartment and met me with a kiss. First, a short quick peck on the lips. Then he held on for another moment. I looked up into his smiling blue eyes.
“I’ve missed you” he announced.
I smiled, “I missed you too.”
That was the moment he’d been waiting for. His arms tightened around me. As I stepped into him, his warm, soft lips met mine once again. We stood there in the entry way wrapped in each other. The winter sunlight glistening in through the window as if a spotlight was announcing this kiss.
“We’d better go” were the whispered words in my ear. My heart was beating a little faster than it had been. I should be plenty warm this afternoon.
Archer held my hand as I drove the fifteen minutes to the trails. It’s a gorgeous winter day. We’ve been having one snowfall after another all winter. Blowing and drifting snow has been cleared into mountain landscapes across the flat Iowa farm fields. I’m hoping we can even access the trails. Once we arrived, I thought it wise to begin at the beginning with a stop in the center itself. Archer is a hunter and he appreciated all of the animals on display. We wandered through the building holding hands or giving playful hugs here and there. What a nice tone we’ve set for the afternoon.
The trails are indeed ready for someone to wander about. I chose the Brewery Loop to begin with. It’s named for an old brewery that was carved into a hillside along the river. The trail leads right up to it. Even in the sultry heat of an August day, you can feel the chilled air emanating from the cave. A perfect place to keep the beer cold.
The walking in the February fresh air is refreshing. I feel renewed and energized. Archer maneuvers the icy spots with ease. I maneuver them by hugging the nearest tree and skimming around the ice. He laughs… thank goodness. The trail curves along the river and as the scenery changes we chatter and laugh and enjoy the afternoon. We hold on to each other through mittened hands as we turn again back toward the woods and onto the Badlands Loop. This area is more like a prairie with some open fields and a cliff here and there. Large piled rocky areas and then back into the woods once again. Toward the end of the Badlands Loop, I can feel the winter chill beginning to tickle my feet. Archer is no worse for the wear, he’s very physically fit and toned.
As we rounded back to where we began Archer offered that we should grab an early dinner together. I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea. I recommended Papa’s American Bar & Grille. It’s a warm and welcoming place with a southwestern ambiance, and a wide variety of options on their menu. We both chose the Enchilada Dinner. Once the waitress had taken our orders, I excused myself to the ladies room to look over my appearance. Oh gosh.. when I took off my hat.. static! I was a scary mess. I searched my purse for a comb but found a hair pick. It had to suffice. I took off a layer or two of clothes and found my way back to our table.
Archer smiled, “You look amazing in red. Is that what you were wearing in your profile picture?”
It wasn’t. But who cares! I was smiling and Archer seemed pleased to be sitting here with me. We both had a rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. A winter hike was good for us both.