March 13 was the sweet spot.

The snow had melted on Highland Golf Course, the rolling greens calling to me as a runner but not yet to golfers. It was quite lovely — tree-spangled, wide-open acres of soft ground. Again in November, I look forward to those raw days before serious winter when golf courses are free of both snow and golfers, and I can enjoy the black branches etched against the blue sky, the undulating turf, manicured but de-peopled. It’s short-lived, the golf course season, but it brings fun and beauty to otherwise uninspiring times of year. I don’t deny, my standards for entertainment are low.

What I’ve been calling going for a run could now be called social distancing. But it’s been so much more than that. I work at home, and run in the middle of the day when my brain loses charge. After 20-some years of prioritizing kids’ or work schedules, toddling along by myself, whenever and wherever I want to, is the most ridiculous luxury. It’s balm, it’s tonic, it’s sane-itizing, it’s de-stressing, it’s recharging, it’s an idea farm, it’s real grass and dogs and wind in my hair after hours of screen living. It’s free. And freeing. There’s a Latin phrase, solvitur ambulando, or “it is solved by walking.” I extrapolate that to running.

Outside is never closed; my run is never canceled. Another thing that’s not going to be canceled? Spring. My large wall calendar indicates that I spotted the first robin of 2019 on March 14 — any day now. The magnolia tree, a Canadian variety, has had fuzzy buds on it since February. The chive and the daylilies near the house were already green when the snow melted. I’ve been overwintering a curly willow in the basement with a dribble of water every couple weeks and the light from a glass-block window. It tells me it’s ready to brave the elements, soft pale-green leaves sprouting along the branches.

The Boston Marathon can be postponed, schools closed, sports canceled, and everything seemingly upended, but a person can still put on her shoes and go out and breathe, look for robins and live pretty large. Solvitur ambulando.


Sarah Barker is a freelance writer from St. Paul.