Gravel crunches under my feet. Naked trees loom above me, their skinny limbs reaching into the grey cold sky. I push faster – dodging patches of ice and slow Belgians. I must be the coldest and fastest person in this country right now. The red thermometer flashed outside the Chinese restaurant around the corner: 3 degrees. Celsius to Fahrenheit mental conversion is just something I have little will to master, but I do know this. Three degrees is cold. I chase the puff of frozen air ahead of me while jamming to my American rap and pop music buzzing in
Every real Texan knows about Barton Springs – the natural pool in Austin filled entirely from a natural spring – and the truest of Texans have dipped their body into the chilly, but refreshing waters on a scorching hot summer day. It’s a rite of passage for natives, like floating the Guadalupe, sipping a Big O at Georges, or riding the Texas Giant at Six Flags. Natural pools are few and far between – no matter what country you reside in, so imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Belgium’s version of Barton Springs in a nearby neighborhood of Antwerp.
My footfalls beat on the gravely asphalt. I’ve escaped my three children for a bit, leaving them in our temporary apartment with my husband. Running was a habit I picked back up after moving to Texas. In Leiden, I exhausted myself daily just biking or walking my kids around town. Once I moved back to Texas, I was determined to continue biking my kids to school. (Despite the rolling-down-of-windows-wave “Hey? Do you need a ride?” questions from other well-meaning Moms in mini-vans.) I eventually gave up once the temperatures headed into the 90s. We still played outside or went to