Well, a couple days ago when I saw the forecast I got a bit sad, irritated, frustrated, depressed, gloomy, not quite sure how to describe it but I was not very happy. I am not a winter person, I endure each winter of living in Minnesota but it is safe to say that I am never excited about winter starting, ending yes, now that's a wonderful day. You see I hate the cold, I am ok with the snow and the ice as long as it stays off of the roads, trails and my driveway.
Yesterday, I had one of those moments that help me get through it. With the snow starting to come down and the thought of my first 2+ hour commute home, I left work a little early (around 3) and decided to head to Lebanon Hills and get a run in before it got any worse or my motivation went away. The trails had 1-3 inches of snow and the wind was brisk but it felt good to get out, I always feel good when I get outside, it's just getting out that I struggle with.
About 2 miles into the run, I was on a section of trail between the maintenance road and the christian camp road running the single track when I looked down at one of the lakes and instead a 4 to 5 foot high tree stump caught my attention. It had moved, I immediately stopped and looked hard at it. Was I imagining it as the snow was right in my face and then it moved again. Actually the stump didn't move but the owl sitting on it did. It turned it's head and stared at me, we were about 10-15 feet apart. It was covered lightly in snow and it was huge (about a foot and a half to two feet tall). It blinked it's eyes at me, looked down and seemed to not care the least about me. I just stood there and stared at it and thought to myself "way cool". As I turned and started to take off, it was still not concerned about me so I simply told it to have a good day. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera, (I have to start carrying one for moments like this).
After I got home, I looked up owls and I am 99% sure it was a "Great Horned Owl", here is a picture of one from wikipedia.
In Lebanon Hills, I have seen owls before but never so close to me. I like to think that without the snow, I wouldn't have had the experience, a great reminder to appreciate all of the seasons and yet another reminder of why I run trails.