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Let's face it – there's a whole lot of snow out there. This is good news for people who have snowmobiles; they like lots of snow. It is good for skiers, who love new snow, and ski resort owners, who make lots of money off of people who like new snow. My teenage son, Chuck and I don't own a snowmobile and we can't afford to be skiers, but we got snowshoes for Christmas, and have had plenty of opportunity to use them – like when we walk outside the door.
Modern snowshoes are a wonderful thing. At least, they are a wonderful thing for me because they are ridiculously light, being made out of aluminum, and much smaller than classic snowshoes, which is great if you are ridiculously short like me. In old fashioned snowshoes I had to walk in a very awkward manner because they were fairly wide and long, which gave me a totally unnatural gait. I always thought that I must look like one of the guys from Monty Python doing the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. My new snowshoes work just as well as the old ones and are far less humiliating. At least they were, until I fell down a hill.
My new snowshoes have a set of metal grippers on the bottom that are wonderful if you are on icy terrain or going uphill. In fact, they are great going down hill so long as you are doing it in an upright position. The down side is that they can also catch on various things that might be lurking under the snow waiting to trip you. Its the evil, lurking stuff that got me. I was going along nicely on my cute shoes and using my neat poles, feeling pretty good about myself for awhile. We had gone some distance and trudged up and down a few small hills, so I felt confident that I had things under control. A snow covered landscape is a beautiful thing on a sunny day. The snow is clean and pure and clings to the trees. The problem is that when you have snow covering everything it...well...covers everything, and drifts to create very deep snow and some not so deep snow. Its the not so deep snow that can be a bit dicey. I was all set to go down a hill but entirely unaware that the wind had done it's thing and whipped the snow off the top, leaving a pretty shallow covering. As I stepped out to start down the hill my shoe's little grippers caught on something, maybe a root or a rock, and I lost my balance. This would have been okay if I had fallen backwards, but I was leaning forward which meant that I just continued in that direction. Down the hill.
When we were kids we used to love to roll down hills in the snow. As an aged person it was something less than a thrill. Rolling down a hill in snowshoes presents a number of tactical difficulties. Although my snowshoes are not big, they are certainly bigger than my boots and far more rigid. As I was plummeting down the hill it occurred to me that I needed to keep my feet sort of in the air so I didn't end up destroying my snowshoes or breaking an ankle or something if they got caught. Go ahead and try to roll down a hill that way and tell me how it works out for you. It doesn't. I wanted to release my poles but the straps around my wrists prevented me from abandoning them, so I just rolled along with my poles attempting to beat me up. For some reason it seemed to take an eternity to reach the bottom of the hill, which didn't seem all that high to me when I was at the top of it. I had plenty of time to think about the various horrible consequences to myself and my equipment as I tumbled along. Fortunately, I managed to make it down without hitting any substantial boulders and came to a halt at the bottom lying on my back. I remember thinking how blue the sky was that day. My view was then blocked by the worried face of my son peering down at me. His expression was one of horror.
“Are you okay, Mom?” he asked.
I took a moment to take inventory. I wasn't in horrible pain, although that could have been because I was lying in a foot of icy snow and couldn't feel much of anything. I tried moving my various limbs and found that I was reasonably ambulatory. Chuck reached down and hauled me to a sitting position, where I inspected my snowshoes for damage. They seemed intact.
“I think I am unhurt,” I told him.
“Thank goodness,” he said with relief. “Can I laugh now?”
I told him to knock himself out, which he almost did because he laughed so hard he had to sit down. In retrospect, my wild little ride was just about the funniest thing he had ever seen in his entire life and he described what it had looked like from his perspective in great detail. Given his vivid portrayal of my unfortunate mishap, I really couldn't blame him, and he did wait until he was sure that I was alright. Later that evening, while sitting on the couch with only minor bruising and a nice, hot cup of tea made for me by my still chuckling son, it occurred to me that most of life is a trade-off. Thanks to my new snowshoes I no longer walk funny, but evidently, I fall hysterically.
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