Climbing on the bike for the first ride of the new year the clouds lay heavy over the horizon. Various layers hang like tulle around the trees, on this unseasonably warm. The thick atmosphere feels almost tropical, as the heavy damp air fogs up your shield. You lift your screen and moisture dampens your face; however you are thankful there is no bite in this blast!

Dropping down into the valley you are surprised by the dense wall of fog concealing the foothills. Just the tips of the deep green fir trees force their way through this blanket of moisture giving evidence of the mountains beyond. You question whether your clock was correct when you left at 9am, since the thickness of these clouds push out the morning light, as if you are going through a tunnel. Carefully you keep the bike upright using your body weight to lean off the side through the turns allowing more contact surface from your tires on these damp, slick roads. Senses alert and reactions calculated you feel alive!

Traveling down the highway the winter trees stripped of foliage reveal red-tailed hawks, songbirds, and chickadees huddled on branches. On this wary day even, the wild animals seem hesitant, waiting, not wanting to take to the air. You can’t help but think of the similarities as we collectively travel into 2021 on a careful journey of wait and see.

Arriving at Alki Beach there is life and activity. The dense clouds of the morning have lifted, and a deep breath of healing salt air fills your lungs. Lines of people wait for fresh donuts at Top Pot Doughnuts and the scent of bacon and coffee lingers in the air.

Grabbing a cup of coffee, you head down to the beach to cheer on the few brave souls participating in the annual polar plunge. A crackling countdown begins over a megaphone and small groups of brave souls, jumping around to stay warm, strip down to their suits and run into the frigid Puget Sound. Cheers and laughter fill the air! Clapping you cheer them on and feel lighter for the community experience.

Walking through the heavy sand in motorcycle boots, you take a welcomed seat on a cement piling. A ferry passes by and swimmers in wetsuits with colorful buoys take their morning “laps” along the water’s edge. A sea lion gracefully breaks the water and rolls back down, as a sentinel Bald Eagle watches from his perch on a snag. A feeling of peace and hope envelope your soul. Amid all this craziness life is good and meant to be experienced.

As the day rolls on, you cannot help but reflect on how your morning started with tentative “footsteps”, but in care and forward movement you were able to experience more of life and the reckless abandonment of the polar plunge. It makes you wonder about this coming year. It seems to have begun tentatively. But maybe, just maybe, we will all come together as a community and plunge toward our goals and shared experiences.