Yesterday was a perfect day for a long walk. It was, to begin with, a Saturday -- abounding with unstructured time. More importantly, it was a bright, sunny day with clear blue skies, the exact shade that never fails to lift my spirits. The only drawback was that it was 6 degrees Fahrenheit. In St. Louis terms, that's known as "bitterly cold."
Nothing daunted, I practiced my dressing-in-layers routine, learned during my 12 years living in Minnesota. I mean, I just couldn't stay indoors on a day like that, no matter how badly I wanted to read A Wizard of Mars by Diane Duane. I took the book with me. I carried it for 8 miles while wearing sweat pants over slacks, a polo sweater over a T-shirt, a well-insulated winter coat with the hood up, a St. Louis Rams scarf, snug gloves, and a knit cap with ear flaps. Some of the time I also wore earmuffs. It was that cold.
Heading north on Hampton Ave., and then west on Clayton, I was only uncomfortably cold in the part of my face around my nose and mouth. Coming back after dark, the cold started to get to my fingers and thumbs; but steam from my breath kept my face toasty warm. I had to tighten the VelCro straps around the cuffs of my coat sleeves to keep the heat in. Now and then I pulled my scarf up so I could breathe through it, to give my lips a chance to thaw out.
It was a bit difficult to see, because my glasses frequently fogged up; the condensation from my breath all but froze into solid frost. Without my glasses, I was only a little better off than squinting through half-frozen fog. I was a little worried about being poked in the eye by tree branches overhanging the sidewalk. This actually happened once, only while I was wearing the glasses! I tripped on a couple of crooked slabs of concrete. I had to negotiate two or three patches of ice with great care.
In spite of these mild annoyances, it was a good walk. The hills along the route made for a reasonable aerobic workout. I can't decide whether I preferred the busy traffic on Hampton, or the peace and quiet along much of Clayton. The route gave a mixture of pleasures. And at the far end of it, at a St. Louis Bread Co. a block or two east of Big Bend, I took refreshment in the form of hot cream-of-tomato soup served in a bowl made of sourdough bread, with an apple on the side. I can't recommend that pick-me-up in strong enough terms. Plus, the Bread Co. is a good place to blow time while you wait for a show. I had a book with me, didn't I?
The movie I watched was It's Complicated, at the AMC cinema across the street. It's the latest romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as a divorced couple who have an affair while he's married to "the other woman" (Lake Bell) and she is getting involved with her architect (Steve Martin). Both Streep and Baldwin do good comedy, but as a serious actor he just isn't in her league. Even Steve Martin showed more acting ability. And the best laughs went to John Krasinski of "The Office," playing Streep's son-in-law-to-be, especially in the scene where he catches the ex-couple sneaking into a hotel together and has to prevent his fiancee from finding out. Rita Wilson and Mary Kay Place get in a few cute scenes as a couple of Streep's girlfriends, the three youngsters playing Baldwin and Streep's kids go through an emotional wringer and manage to make it look cute, but it's the food that proves to be Streep's most eye-appealing costar. They've worked well together before (remember Julie & Julia?).
So it was late-ish when I got home. I was tired enough to get a good night's sleep. And believe it or not, I didn't suffer. No twisted ankle this time. Blisters on the balls of my feet, perhaps. But no frostbite, hypothermia, or muscle cramps. It was a good walk. And a good day for it.