On any given summer’s day, Belle Isle is swarming with sunbathers. Beach towels lay scattered around the glistening rocks, music hums from portable speakers, and those looking for relief from the heat dip their toes into the chilly James River. It’s a refreshing spot to cool off when the humidity spikes and a popular summer destination for Richmond natives. Kyle and I decided to visit a few weeks ago during a beautiful, 70-degree day. We parked at the beginning of a hiking trail (several of which surround the rocky landscape) and crossed over a concrete bridge to reach the river. We didn’t expect many people to be there in the middle of February, but the warm temperature was a catalyst for the crowd. Small groups of college students hung around the area. Several hikers had their dogs in tow, playfully hopping around the rocks. The bright sunshine and clear skies had everyone in an optimistic mood.
Despite the warmth, remnants of winter still lingered at Belle Isle. Several parts of the James River were frozen over. Thick slabs of ice drifted between the rocks, and frozen waterfalls surrounded the area. It was a glaring reminder that spring wasn’t quite on the horizon. Sure enough, just a few weeks later, snow blanketed the city of Richmond. Piles of snow still remain in the parking lot behind my apartment complex. I’m crossing my fingers it was the last snowstorm of the season.
I’m incredibly grateful for warm, beautiful days like our Sunday afternoon hike on the James River. It’s easy to get lost in the cold winds and gray skies of winter when spring feels so close but so far away. It's almost like Mother Nature provides quick bursts of sunshine to remind everyone that sweet relief is near. On that note, spring is officially 12 days away. I can’t wait!