Monday, January 17, 2011

Come For a Walk With Me

My Northern Lites tag sale snowshoes.
Two years ago I bought a pair of used snowshoes at a tag sale. During last winter's snowless months they languished on their nail on the garage wall. But last week the snow started falling at dusk on Tuesday evening and by Wednesday morning there were 22 inches of light, fluffy snow on the ground. I stepped off my front doorstep and sank in over my knees. Snowshoe time!

Yesterday I joined my brother Frank and three of his neighbors on a trek through a local Audubon Nature Preserve. The site is an old farm on the street where I grew up. I'd wandered these meadows and woods my whole childhood. Frank and I used to strap on my grandfather's old hardwood framed, rawhide laced snowshoes and track each other through some of this very land. I hadn't been on showshoes since I was eight years old. The woods and fields I was about to traverse seemed much the same but this body was far removed from the lithe and limber eight year old I'd been.

At the trail head.
The sun was bright and the wind brisk as we trudged through the first hayfield, past the farm pond, and up into the woods. I remember that pond being dug and the giant turtle that emerged snapping and growling in the dredge's bucket. The land had been mined for limestone in years past and as we climbed, we passed the old stone supports for the cart line that carried the quarried stone downhill to the smelting kiln.

Old quarry cable supports
The woods were deep and still. The only sounds were the creakings of our bindings and the swoosh of snow under our shoes as we made our way through the hardwoods and the sighing pines. The storm had left deep snow on the forest floor and strange snow animals on tree limbs...

Odd little snow animal perched on a broken branch...
I'd brought along my ski poles to help me keep my balance on the uneven ground. I found I didn't need them most of the time but they came in handy when trying to climb over fallen trees or struggle up steep inclines. We stopped occasionally to decipher animal tracks or just to drink in the beauty of the winter landscape. I was eight again in my mind, mittened and capped and completely free in the quiet woods and windblown meadows.

One of several vast, untrammeled meadows.
An hour and a half later we stamped the snow from our shoes in the Preserve parking lot, exclaimed about what a good time we'd had, and made tentative plans to do it again. My shoulders ached from swinging the poles and my back ached from the prolonged tromping but my spirit danced like the happy child that used to roam these spaces daily.


Helen said...

My family is going on a snowshoe trek today ... yours sounds wonderful!

Tabor said...

While I have done a little cross country and was exhausted at the end...never did snow shoeing. Sounds lovely.

deb said...

oh, I've been thinking of buying snow shoes !!
The little hike I went on the other day convinced me.
My boots alone aren't quite right.

I never thought to try and find used ones... thank you.
How often so many of these things sit languishing in people's garages and basements... yes.

Friko said...

I love such treks, they are quite exhilarating.
The ground may be familiar but in winter, hidden by the snow, the landscape becomes a magical mystery tour.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh P, what a happy day!

steven said...

pauline thanks for the snowshoe trip! i haven't snowshoed for years but my shoes are hangining in the basement. they'll know when it's time again. i love the open meadow shot. love it!!! steven

Brian Miller said...

oh what a lovely adventure....i want to go...i want to go!

Joanna Jenkins said...

"...but my spirit danced like the happy child..." That's the way to live! High five.

Hilary said...

Isn't it amazing how we can be transformed back to our childhood just by doing the things we once did? Your photos are lovely.. your words, as well. I felt like I was tromping right alongside of you.

Pauline said...

Helen - hope you all had as much fun as we did!

Tabor - I've done both and I found snowshoeing to be less strenuous but that may be because we were on an already established trail. When I practiced moving through the fluffy, 20 inch deep snow in my yard, I struggled a lot more with each step.

Deb - these were quite inexpensive as the previous owner was moving to Florida and wanted to get rid of them. I bet you could peruse Craigslist for some...

Friko - yes, magical is a good word for what it was like :)

HHB - indeed!

Steven - it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon out of doors.

Brian M - come on, come on!

JJ :)

Hilary - I was beside myself, in a manner of speaking, the whole way. (Often the younger me was skipping ahead, having fun at a faster rate :)

Ruth D~ said...

That would be a walk to lift one's spirits. Bet you worked up a sweat. I'd like to get snow shoes...or maybe do some cross country skiing.

Sky said...

sounds like a great adventure. they would have to figure out how to get an ambulance up on the trail to pick me up though! ;)